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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 18/03/2015



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Victory for Benjamin Netanyahu

With 29 to 30 of the Knesset's 120 seats, Likud is still in need of coalition partners. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party has defied forecasts and attained almost 24 percent of the vote in the country's parliamentary elections. This result should allow him to remain in office. The PM has come out on top through a policy of fear-mongering and will further isolate his country, some commentators write. Others point out that Palestinians still prefer him to his challenger Isaac Herzog.

Spiegel Online - Germany

Israel isolating itself further

Benjamin Netanyahu's surprisingly clear electoral victory is a panic reaction, the news portal Spiegel Online believes: "In recent weeks Netanyahu has been consistently pursuing a policy he's got down to a fine art: fear-mongering. A policy that induces voters to forget all the other unsolved problems and accept unquestioningly every blunder on the part of his government by stressing the existential threats at hand. ... To mobilise a few undecided marginal right-wing voters he made racist remarks on election day about 'hordes' of Israeli Arabs storming the polling stations. The previous evening he had publicly rejected the two-state solution with the remark that if he were re-elected there would be no Palestinian state. That puts him in direct conflict with the international community. ... Apart from the danger of the growing rifts in Israeli society, this also risks subjecting Israel to further international isolation." (18/03/2015)

Al Jazeera - Qatar

Global perspectives: Rather Netanyahu than Herzog

Despite his hard line approach Palestinians prefer Benjamin Netanyahu to Isaac Herzog, the Qatai news broadcaster Al Jazeera believes: "Paradoxically, while all Palestinians agree on Netanyahu's terrible record, many prefer Netanyahu to Herzog because as they see it, he exposes the true face of Israel while the latter blurs Israel's real intentions while improving its standing in the West. As for the worst of all plausible scenarios, a national unity government between Netanyahu and Herzog is guaranteed to continue the diplomatic deadlock and deepen Israel's belligerence, while at the same time improve its international standing." (17/03/2015)

The Independent - United Kingdom

Beacon of democracy in Middle East? Think again

Israel discriminates and oppresses a large part of its non-Jewish population and can hardly be held up as a role model for democracy in the region, the left-liberal daily The Independent criticises: "A state that exerts its control over a people by means of a decades-old illegal occupation is not a democracy. And neither is a state that declares itself only for Jews and ignores the rights of the indigenous non-Jewish people. Israel doesn't belong to all its citizens and those under its control. It is an ethnocratic, settler colonial state that flouts international law on a daily basis by oppressing the Palestinians in varying states of occupation. And it does so with European and American complicity. The shining beacon of democracy in the Middle East? Far from it." (17/03/2015)

La Repubblica - Italy

The promised land of inequality

Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wisely left economic issues out of his election campaign, Israel has become a land of inequality, economist Paul Krugman comments in the left-liberal daily La Repubblica: "Israel has experienced a dramatic widening of income disparities. ... According to Luxembourg Income Study data, the share of Israel's population living on less than half the country's median income ... more than doubled, to 20.5 percent from 10.2 percent, between 1992 and 2010. ... There is an extreme concentration of wealth and power among a tiny group of people at the top. ... In short, the political economy of the promised land is now characterized by harshness at the bottom and at least soft corruption at the top." (18/03/2015)


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Rzeczpospolita - Poland

Moscow benefits from reparations debate

In a commentary for Spiegel Online on Tuesday, the president of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) values committee, Gesine Schwan, called on Germany to pay compensation to victims of Nazi crimes living in Greece. The conservative daily Rzeczpospolita warns against making ill-considered demands in view of the conflict between the EU and Russia: "This may be an important piece of news for other countries that were also occupied by Germany. But we should be careful not to expect Berlin to pay for all the destruction caused by Nazi Germany. Poland must also take care even though the temptation to make such demands is naturally particularly strong at the moment. Because if even important German politicians are now saying that not all the accounts have been settled, why shouldn't we make demands too? ... But reparation payments would increase distrust within the EU and deepen existing rifts, which in turn would only benefit Moscow." (18/03/2015)

Marianne - France

Hollande needs conservatives against Le Pen

The far-right Front National could emerge as the strongest party from the first round of France's departmental elections on Sunday, according to the latest opinion polls. In the long term only cooperation between conservatives and leftists parties can keep the Socialist President François Hollande in office, the left-liberal news magazine Marianne believes: "The sworn enemies of the political divide along right-left lines should be happy: France is no longer divided in two, but in three! Just that rather than emerging in the centre as expected, the third party is on the far right. So the stage is set for a historic disaster for the left. ... The last hope for effective counteraction lies in the office of the president: the only office for which Marine Le Pen is not suited, even according to some of her supporters. ... François Holland must now try to gain more support on the left and on the right. ... In other words, he must employ the tactic that got François Mitterrand re-elected in 1988." (16/03/2015)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Rutte's government needs opposition

The Dutch will elect new provincial parliaments today, Wednesday. These parliaments' MPs will then elect the First Chamber of the national parliament in May. According to the polls the governing coalition between conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte's People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the social democratic Labour Party is facing heavy losses. Cooperation with the opposition will therefore remain a necessity, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant concludes: "The division of the political landscape is a permanent phenomenon that requires a political culture of pragmatic dualism. That works for pushing through reform programmes. ... But if it was up to the PVV [led by right-wing populist Geert Wilders] and the [socialist] SP the government would have to step down tomorrow and call new elections. Other opposition parties are against this. That's understandable. The dualism gives them scope to have their say on the policies and take the initiative. This is more advantageous than a government crisis in times that are still very difficult economically." (18/03/2015)

Mladá fronta dnes - Czech Republic

Zeman wrong to attend Putin's show

The Czech Republic's head of state Miloš Zeman will probably be the only president from a Western state to attend the victory parade in Moscow to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. This was confirmed by Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday. The liberal daily Mladá fronta Dnes criticises the president's decision: "Apart from Zeman and host Vladimir Putin, only people like the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un will be standing on the Kremlin balcony. Others like Angela Merkel refuse to legitimise Russia's imperial conquest ambitions by attending. ... Naturally the commemoration of so many Soviet soldiers who gave their lives for the liberation of Czechoslovakia merits deep respect. But it shouldn't be politicised. ... So it's all the more unfortunate that Zeman is exploiting the event for his Putin mania. On May 9 we will pay tribute to the memory of the Soviet soldiers. But we won't applaud the president for his trip to the Kremlin." (18/03/2015)


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Wirtschaftsblatt - Austria

Europe right to get in good with China

Germany, France, the UK and Italy want to participate in China's new development bank which according to Beijing's plans is to finance infrastructure projects above all in Asia. The liberal business paper Wirtschaftsblatt lauds the fact that these states aren't letting US reservations about the bank interfere with their plans: "In Europe and China's neighbouring countries the governments have long since grasped that regardless of what Washington thinks they can't halt Beijing's global plans anyway because they're in line with this huge country's economic clout. And it can't hurt to put oneself on a good footing with the rising super power which may even outstrip the US one day. Better to join in now and gain influence in the new institutions, they say to themselves in Berlin, Paris, London and Rome, but also in Singapore and soon no doubt in Sydney or Seoul too." (18/03/2015)

El País - Spain

Andorra must reform banking system

Following a money laundering scandal involving the Andorran private bank BPA, its Spanish subsidiary Banco de Madrid filed for bankruptcy on Monday. Apparently many customers of the institute, which focuses on the wealthy, withdrew large sums of money after the scandal. Andorra must act quickly to prevent further scandals and bankruptcies, the left-liberal daily El País warns: "The damage to Andorra's image and financial circles is enormous. ... The financial system forms the backbone of the Andorran economy and more than a fifth of it is based on BPA. ... To stabilise the situation Andorra must shield the other banks from the ailing institute. The country must increase transparency, lift banking secrecy and advance data exchange with neighbouring countries to fight organised crime and fiscal offences. In this way it can protect itself from the effect of old problems, and the sooner this happens, the better." (18/03/2015)


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La Tribune de Genève - Switzerland

Art treasures belong at home despite risks

Terrorist militants of the Islamic State destroyed priceless cultural treasures that were thousands of years old - including statues and manuscripts - in the Iraqi city of Mosul at the end of February. Nevertheless such objects should remain at their original location, the regional daily La Tribune de Genève believes: "Here and there voices can be heard calling for artworks on display in our museums to be sent back to their countries of origin. Bearing in mind the fate of the statues that were left at their original locations one may well wonder whether agreeing to such requests is a wise idea. Nevertheless the best place for these witnesses to past events is with their local populations. Why remove a cultural heritage, the source of pride for an entire region and a powerful source of revenue for local economies? If people in such areas came to their senses and developed a safe and intelligent tourist industry, everyone would benefit." (18/03/2015)


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Público - Portugal

Paedophile register an invitation for mob justice

Portugal's Council of Ministers passed legislation for the creation of a central register of known paedophiles last week. However the question of who will have access to it remains contentious. The liberal daily Público fears that given Portugal's poor record on legal confidentiality the register will soon be an open book to all: "It's one thing for the legal authorities to have access to such a register, but it's quite another if this information is accessible for every citizen. That may not be the plan, but the list of persons entitled to see it (not just the authorities but also 'parents with justified doubts') in practice means almost universal access. ... In contrast to the original idea, the use of the register by parents or potential employers could turn into an invitation for mob law." (17/03/2015)

Kristeligt Dagbladet - Denmark

Denmark needs anti-divorce policy

2014 saw a record number of 19,435 divorces in Denmark, according to recent figures put out by the national statistics agency Statistics Denmark. Politicians have failed to adequately tackle the issue, the Christian daily Kristeligt Dagblad laments: "One cannot fail to be amazed that politicians aren't doing more to combat divorce. Experience in Norway shows that just a few hours of mediation can work wonders to prevent a divorce. Even from a cold, economic point of view it's logical to invest money in divorce prevention. Because such separations cost our society billions of kroner in the form of sick leave, social problems and negative development in children and adults. It is to be hoped that the upcoming election campaign will deal not only with tax relief and erecting barriers on our borders, but also with divorce prevention." (18/03/2015)

De Standaard - Belgium

Dream of Netherlands as major power has ended

The Kingdom of the Netherlands was founded 200 years ago. At the time it also encompassed Belgium but the latter seceded 15 years later. Fortunately the efforts to reunify the two countries are a thing of the past, the liberal daily De Standaard comments: "Today the idea of the Greater Netherlands is a marginal phenomenon. There is hardly any more talk even of an 'integration' of Flanders and the Netherlands in either language or literature. This is reflected not only in practice in language, literature and TV programmes but also as regards political cooperation. ... The last important politician to appeal for the reunification of Flanders and the Netherlands was the right-winger Geert Wilders in 2008. ... But in the end the motivation was only the dream of creating an economic and political major power that could play with the big boys. The curtain of history only rarely conceals a cultural or democratic dream." (18/03/2015)

Cumhuriyet - Turkey

Turkey was born in Gallipoli

A century ago today the Ottoman Empire won a major victory against the British and the French in the Battle of Gallipoli and prevented them from capturing Istanbul. In this sea battle, which is called the Battle of Çanakkale in Turkish, the Turkish nation was born, writes the Kemalist daily Cumhuriyet: "In Çanakkale we lost hundreds of thousands of young men but we won a sense of patriotism. The victory of Çanakkale shows that belief in victory is the strongest energy on Earth. Although we were inferior to the imperial powers in every respect, from the number of soldiers to the quality of our weapons, our sense of patriotism was enough to overcome these shortcomings. ... In the dark wars that continued after March 18 Mustafa Kemal [the commander at the time and later president] was also in a sense born. In Çanakkale he began to turn into Atatürk - the father of the Turks." (18/03/2015)

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