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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 08/12/2015

 

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Political centre wrestling with Le Pen

The Socialists weren't able to benefit from Hollande's recent surge in the polls. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

France's Socialist Party plans to withdraw its candidates in three regions for Sunday's second round of the regional elections in a bid to strengthen the conservatives and prevent another victory for the Front National. An alliance between conservatives and Socialists would send the wrong signal to voters, some commentators criticise. Others believe such a step is the only way to stop the rise of the far right.

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Alliance against Front National a mistake

It is a mistake on the part of the Socialists to refrain from having their own candidates run in three regions, the conservative daily the Financial Times writes with an eye to the second round of the regional elections in France: "Mobilising the 'Republican' front in this way would be a mistake. Come the 2017 presidential election, a united republican position may be justified if Ms Le Pen reaches the final round. Politicians, however, must beware of feeding Ms Le Pen's long-running narrative that France's two main parties are rotten and have no other interest than maintaining their grip on the establishment. The two main parties must also resist trying to head off the FN by apeing its xenophobic tone." (07/12/2015)

El País - Spain

Republican front must stop Le Pen

Only if the main parties pursue a joint strategy can they prevent the Front National from winning the presidential elections in 2017, the centre-left daily El País warns: "The success of the Front National augurs times of authoritarianism, sovereigntism, anti-European sentiment and xenophobia in the heart of Europe. Not necessarily because of the regions, which have far less influence in France than in Spain, but because the other parties may gradually move closer to the far right, whether over security, immigration or fear of globalisation. ... Today Sarkozy and Hollande face a major challenge if they want to hold on to the presidency in 2017. Le Pen is on the verge of taking over the office of the head of state. Unless a republican front can stop her in her tracks, that is." (08/12/2015)

Berliner Zeitung - Germany

Get non-voters back on board

Only the voters who didn't cast their ballots on Sunday can prevent a victory for the Front National (FN) in the second round of the regional elections, writes the centre-left daily Berliner Zeitung: "A lot of people see the rise of the Front National as an experiment that could go very wrong. If they risk it anyway, it is because in their eyes all the other options have already failed. … Those who have lost faith in Hollande and Sarkozy but who haven't fallen for Marine Le Pen's fake harmony have turned their backs on all three parties. In other words, 20 million French people weren't able to find a party on Sunday for which they felt it was worthwhile to go to the polling station. As depressing as this may sound, it also offers hope. If the millions who remained silent on election day can be persuaded to back a laborious but realistic period of crisis management, the Front National would soon be back where it belongs: on the political fringes." (08/12/2015)

De Standaard - Belgium

Victory has repercussions for all of Europe

The Front National's election victory will have consequences for all Europe, the liberal daily De Standaard predicts: "In France an era is drawing to an end in which the left and right kept each other in check in their struggle for power. … The consequences are tangible far beyond its borders. Europe is at a crossroads: further integration or fragmentation. And faced with these two options the EU is drifting towards the latter. … In their eagerness to save their own skins the leaders of the imperilled major parties once again threaten to disappear behind Europe's broad back. They are depicting the failure of the EU as something for which they themselves bear no responsibility, and thus giving legitimacy to their arch-enemy's thesis. In this way they are enhancing the illusion that withdrawing into one's own shell is a good response to the fear and anger of the lost voters." (08/12/2015)

POLITICS

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Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia

Operations in Syria a haphazard act of revenge

In view of the French and Russian airstrikes in Syria, Johannes Kert, former commander of the Estonian air force, warns in the liberal daily Eesti Päevaleht of the dangers of emotionally driven military decisions: "The attacks by France and Russia smack of revenge. And even if the outcome is positive this will be a lengthy operation. … President Obama refuses to extend the deployment of US troops despite the terrorist attacks in Europe. It's clear to everyone that the Syrian territory can't be brought under control without ground troops. The area under the IS's control is as large as the UK. Controlling such a territory is a very serious military and also political challenge." (08/12/2015)

Hürriyet - Turkey

Ankara's Kurdish problem blocking Syria solution

The Syria policies of Russia and the US are converging in the fight against the IS terrorist organisation, the conservative daily Hürriyet observes: "While Russia is stepping up its attacks against the IS, the US is becoming more flexible regarding Assad. ... In addition, the 'Vienna peace plan' - that is the pursuit of a political solution in Syria - has brought about closer cooperation between the US and Russia. .. Ankara knows that, and has for this reason agreed to a transitional solution with Assad. It also knows that the US and Russia agree on the topic of the [Syrian-Kurdish militia] PYD. Now Ankara is sending soldiers to Mossul to train the Peshmerga fighters under the Iraqi Kurdish leader Barzani. In this way Ankara is strengthening the rivals of those on whom the coalition relies as a local power base [against the IS]. ... Taking a wider view, it's clear that the PYD will be the toughest nut for Turkey." (08/12/2015)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Exodus to Europe: Sweden reaches its limits

In hardly any European country are the changes in policy brought about by the refugee crisis as evident as in Sweden, writes the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung: "A large number of the refugees now arriving in the country will take more out of the public budget than they put in. This is creating disgruntlement, and not just among the Swedes. As the French example shows, the frustration among immigrants at their lack of prospects on the job market creates a breeding ground for radicalisation. Given this barrage of consequences it is questionable whether Sweden will ever return to its liberal asylum policy. The repercussions of the most recent refugee crisis will long be felt in the country. The average waiting time for asylum applicants is a year; even though the government has now pulled the emergency brake, the skid marks will be long." (08/12/2015)

24 Sata - Croatia

No unity government for Croatia

A month after the parliamentary elections in Croatia, the third-strongest party Most wants to form a unity government with the two largest parties, the conservative HDZ and the social democratic SDP. But such a formation would be undemocratic, the conservative tabloid 24 Sata warns: "Putting the emphasis on unity would perhaps be a noble undertaking if it did not at the same time destroy all sense of diversity. And such diversity is the main strength of true democracy. ... Why should we go out and vote if everyone we vote for ends up working together? ... Croatia has come too far from communist one-party rule, the monopoly of the HDZ and the polarisation into left and right, to come to a standstill with a unity government. During this transition Croatia has never had a true multi-party system. But what we need is competing ideas and programmes, not for everything to be brought under one roof." (08/12/2015)

Proto Thema - Greece

Greek crisis may make a comeback

Greece needs to get a new package of reforms underway by mid-December it if wants the Euro Group to release another one-billion-euro instalment from the bailout fund. If the parliamentary majority backing the package crumbles the government will be in a very tight spot, writes the liberal daily Proto Thema: "By spring new holes in the budget may be apparent and the creditors could demand more cutbacks. And not even a government of national unity would be able to push through those measures. Weary MPs and citizens will perhaps realise that it's pointless to continue their efforts and then Schäuble's plans [for a Grexit] may be tabled once more. Before spring arrives we have a difficult winter before us. And with Tsipras too, who has had no rivals outside his own party for months, a certain mental weariness and limited stamina is making itself apparent." (07/12/2015)

24 Chasa - Bulgaria

Cameron needs Borisov to counter Ukip

British Prime Minister David Cameron met with his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov in Sofia on Thursday. They no doubt talked about limiting the number of Bulgarians moving to the UK, the daily newspaper 24 Chasa writes and comments on the British leader's motivation: "Cameron was in Bulgaria because he has allowed himself to be talked into holding a referendum on the UK's EU membership. Back then he promised to meet up with EU leaders to lobby for new special rules for EU members states. He wants among other things to end or at least curtail immigration from Eastern Europe. Not because his party has anything against cheap labour coming to the UK, but because Ukip, led by the fiery Nigel Farage, is exploiting the British people's discontent to steal Conservative votes. That's the way the wind is blowing with the British right now, and the Conservatives must adjust to it if they want to get re-elected." (07/12/2015)

REFLECTIONS

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Le Monde - France

Céline Alduy mourns France's critical spirit

The election victory of the Front National is conveying a new image of France, literary scholar Cécile Alduy writes in the centre-left daily Le Monde: "This is not the tolerant France - the fatherland of the ideal of 'liberty, equality, fraternity' celebrated by Barack Obama - but a France that uses its fears to close itself off and justify xenophobia and authoritarianism. And so we are doubly in mourning, for our dead and for our values. ... The Front National makes a point of being against intellectuals and for 'common sense'. Feeding on prejudice, it is the party that puts the most thought into the power of words. In celebrating the most inflexible prefabricated ideas, it is the party that puts the least stock in thinking as a critical activity. ... Its discourse is a brutal negation of those things for which France is rightly admired throughout the world: its critical spirit, its rational thinking and its historical research." (07/12/2015)

SOCIETY

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Hotnews - Romania

Hungarian Romanians need jobs and motorways

In the Romanian city of Târgu Secuiesc, a majority of whose inhabitants are of Hungarian descent, hundreds of people protested from Thursday to Saturday against the arrest of a Hungarian right-wing extremist accused of planning a bomb attack. The government must take swift action, the news website Hotnews urges: "In view of the growing tensions there is only one long-term solution: massive investments in the infrastructure of the counties of Harghita and Covasna [which are largely populated by Hungarian Romanians]. Roads and motorways must be built to put an end to the local population's isolation and poverty. ... The economy must be stimulated in these two districts through positive discrimination in budget policy. If the region can prosper economically, if the young people can find jobs and earn money - also by dealing with Romanians who would in this way have better access to these cities - the tensions and problems would resolve themselves and no one would pay any heed to separatist ideas." (07/12/2015)

Irish Examiner - Ireland

Exodus to Europe: Ireland's planned asylum law reform far too tough

Ireland's parliament is to vote before Christmas on a new asylum law authorising police officers to arrest asylum seekers not carrying proper identification papers. That would be too harsh and unfair, the liberal daily Irish Examiner criticises: "It is likely that the most deserving applicants will have made their way here through tortuous means and clandestine methods and will have great difficulty in producing identity documents. No other group of people currently in Ireland is subject to such draconian measures and it is this aspect of the bill which has raised particular concerns among human rights groups, many of whom believe the real intent is to establish a fast-track system of deportation." (07/12/2015)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Curia fears Francis's reformist zeal

The Holy Year of Mercy begins today in Rome with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter's Basilica by Pope Francis - amidst huge safety precautions. The Curia should fear the pope's initiatives more than terrorist attacks, writes the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera: "Last year Francis listed 15 ills that are weakening and corrupting the Holy See. His words left those present speechless. The Vatican is now preparing for today's speech with the ironic promise to wear bullet-proof vests. … Not to protect themselves from the bullets of IS terrorists but against the words of the pope. … This is the first Holy Year to begin against the backdrop of the Vatileaks scandal, and it will expose the tensions within the Catholic Church once more." (08/12/2015)

Dennik N - Slovakia

Fico turning Slovakia into a police state

Slovakia has the highest ratio of police officers to inhabitants in Europe, and their number is still growing. Prime Minister Robert Fico is obsessed with the vision of a police state, the liberal daily Dennik N warns: "The new situation in Europe offers him the opportunity to finally present the idea of a state based on his conviction that freedom and democracy are just empty phrases. He envisions a state that protects its citizens from terrorists and those who don't want to go along with his ideas. Slovakia already has the largest number of police officers per inhabitant in the EU, and another 2,500 are due to join the police force. Fico's government has brought a jumble of laws into parliament that will limit the citizens' freedoms on the pretext of fighting terrorism. His idea is simple, and in the present climate of fear appealing to many voters: it is the idea of a police state." (08/12/2015)

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