Press review | 06/10/2015



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Portugal seeking a stable government

Many Portuguese did not vote on Sunday. The turnout was just under 57 percent. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


Portugal is having difficulties forming a government after the elections. The centre-right alliance under Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho received the most votes, but leftist parties will have more than half of the seats in parliament. Some commentators see the vote as a clear rejection of the austerity policy. Others praise the Portuguese for voting differently to the Greeks.

Mladá fronta Dnes - Czech Republic

Portuguese different from the Greeks

The election results show that the Portuguese have coped with the crisis much better than the Greeks, the liberal daily Mladá fronta Dnes writes in praise: "Portugal introduced harsh austerity measures. Even if no one feels like celebrating today, the worst times are over. The vote shows that unlike the Greeks, the Portuguese are far more content with the outcome of the crisis. Although the government has lost its majority, it remains at the helm. ... Malicious gossip has it that the Portuguese are just too passive to revolt. What's more, conservative commentators describe the country's history as a 500-year downturn. And in fact it's been a long time since Europe's westernmost country was a major colonial and naval power. Nevertheless most Portuguese have been happy to adapt to the times." (06/10/2015)

The Guardian - United Kingdom

Voters have had enough of suffering

Sunday's election results are a vote against overly stringent austerity, the centre-left daily The Guardian believes: "Having gone through the economic pain of austerity, Portugal's voters neither want to throw the gains away nor to suffer more than seems strictly necessary amid cautiously brightening economic indicators. The general election has produced a precarious result, which may bring instability and an early return to the polls. But it is also an opportunity for the two main parties to cooperate to provide what Portuguese voters clearly want: a significant easing of austerity, now that the worst seems to be over." (05/10/2015)

El País - Spain

Socialists should ease austerity

Portugal's Socialist Party (PS), the second-strongest party in the elections on Sunday, should help winner Passos Coelho form a stable government and demand an easing of the austerity policy in return, the centre-left daily El País advises: "The PS is a proponent of 'moderate austerity' while the other two [left-wing] parties want an end to the austerity policy. Passos Coelho's problem is that the left-wing majority won't be in government but it may be strong enough to block his government. In that case there would be a six-month caretaker government before new elections are held, and no one can guarantee that the results would be very different to Sunday's results. Only a PS that gives Passos Coelho temporary tacit support in exchange for more moderate cutbacks can lead the way out of the current impasse and avoid the risk of instability the stalemate in parliament entails." (06/10/2015)

Diário de Notícias - Portugal

Passos Coelho must seek dialogue

Prime Minister Passos Coelho's two-party alliance must now seek dialogue in parliament in order to achieve stability, the centre-right daily Diário de Notícias warns: "The best result for Portugal would have been an election winner with an absolute majority, a government that was in a position to push through the upcoming budgets and ensure the necessary political stability. ... Now the Portuguese have chosen something different. ... Despite the close results, Portugal's president must invite the PàF alliance [that has ruled so far] to form a government - but at the same time he must do much more: he must convince the winners that an agreement [with the Socialists] in parliament will be necessary to push through the government's programme and above all the budgets - and to ensure that Portugal doesn't get caught up in the wheels of the markets again." (05/10/2015)


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Yeni Şafak - Turkey

EU just using Erdoğan

The EU is only making overtures to Erdoğan because this serves its own interests, writes the pro-government daily Yeni Şafak commenting on the Turkish president's visit to Brussels: "Until just a few hours ago the European media had written thousands of articles and commentaries on the need to 'tackle' Erdoğan's dictatorship, tyranny, betrayal and despotism. Now all of a sudden they see Erdoğan as the political leader they need. Europe urgently needs Erdoğan on the one hand because Russia has started an offensive outside the area that comprised the former Soviet Union for the first time and on the other hand to halt the Syrian refugees outside the EU's borders. … The EU is a community of countries that has established political, economic and cultural hegemony as the only criterion for its own values and is increasingly closing itself to the outside world. However, that makes it impossible for it to be the voice of universal humaneness." (06/10/2015)

Die Presse - Austria

Europe must keep up pressure on Kurdish issue

Europe may need Ankara's help to manage the flood of refugees but it must keep up the pressure on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the Kurdish issue, the conservative daily Die Presse urges: "The Turkish air force is bombarding PKK targets in northern Iraq and Turkey. Turkish cities like Cizre have been attacked by the army and temporarily sealed off. And the PKK guerrilla groups are ambushing and killing Turkish soldiers. … The EU states must do everything possible to ensure that the peace process resumes as soon as possible. This is also in their own interest: perhaps the Turkish leadership will stop refugees from Syria or Iraq from travelling on to the EU in future. But if the Kurdish conflict gets completely out of control in Turkey, that wouldn't be in Europe's interests. Because then countless refugees would again try to get into the EU - perhaps even more than are doing so now." (06/10/2015) - Germany

Exodus to Europe: Germany's asylum law needs limits

Bavaria's Finance Minister Markus Söder wants to toughen up Germany's asylum law in view of the high numbers of refugees. Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have rejected the idea. Nevertheless, Germany's asylum law makes a promise it will soon be unable to fulfill, the website of the public broadcaster writes: "There is no real reason to hope that the EU will come up with a fair way to deal with the reception of hundreds of thousands of new arrivals. ... What does that mean for Germany? Short of a politically unwanted - and unfeasible - constitutional amendment, upper limits calculated on a yearly basis will have to be introduced. The sheer pressure of the circumstances makes that necessary. The EU interpreted Germany's decision to take in the Budapest refugees four weeks ago as a permanent invitation and recast the refugee issue as a purely German problem. This mistaken understanding of the German constitution must be corrected." (05/10/2015)

Suomenmaa - Finland

Exodus to Europe: The Finns Party still has a role to play

The deputy leader of the Finns Party, Sebastian Tynkkynen, called on Monday for his party to leave the government unless Finland seals its borders. The party would be very unwise to terminate its cooperation with the government, comments Suomenmaa, the party newspaper of the liberal Centre Party and therefore of the coalition partner: "It won't help either Finland or the Finns Party if they duck out of their responsibilities now. … The problem is so big and unexpected that solutions must be sought together. The ministers from the Finns Party play an important role in drawing up the rules and practices of Finland's immigration policy. That should be enough. By leaving the ruling coalition they would lose their influence. The Finns Party would then be left sitting on the sidelines, just watching events unfold." (06/10/2015)


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Les Echos - France

VW scandal: People must have a say in company policy

VW's diesel engine fraud shows that co-determination rights must be extended in Europe's companies, writes Marcel Grignard, head of the think tank Confrontations Europe, in the liberal business paper Les Echos: "As an organised structure, the company is vital for the economy and a key component of civil society - provided that it lets its employees and its management play the role they should. Nevertheless, it is imperative that a management model be developed which also gives external players a say: customers, suppliers, government authorities and environmental organisations. ... Such a step will only strengthen a company and protect it from the mistakes that affect far more companies than just Volkswagen. Only in this way can European companies fully contribute to both the economy and social life. What a paradox to see a company that is a symbol of Europe's social market economy unmasked by the US, a country with a much wilder form of capitalism." (05/10/2015)

Jyllands-Posten - Denmark

Consumers powerless against green lies

The VW emissions scandal shows the lengths companies will go to exploit environmentally conscious consumers, the cente-right daily Jyllands-Posten comments: "Since the start of the new millennium so-called 'green' products have experienced tremendous growth. What they all have in common is that consumers have little - or no - possibility to verify whether these cars, refrigerators or electronic devices really are as environmentally friendly as their manufacturers claim. Similarly, they have little possibility of checking whether environmentally friendly products comply with all the rules, laws and standards. ... The VW scandal is historic, partly because it completely destroys the basic ideal that Germany stands for and partly because such racketeering is so objectionable that - if it doesn't break up Volkswagen completely - it will hopefully lead to a much needed rebellion against all green lies." (06/10/2015)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

TPP will speed up TTIP negotiations

After five years of negotiations the US, Japan and ten other Pacific Rim nations concluded a free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Monday. The centre-right daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung predicts that this will accelerate the TTIP negotiations: "Sceptics point to the long transition periods for sensitive areas - above all agricultural products - or the central issue of how trade disputes can be settled outside World Trade Organisation (WTO) mechanisms. At the same time in these times of blossoming protectionism it's good news that 12 states in the Pacific zone have agreed on free trade. … Without doubt the pressure on Europe to advance the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will now increase. It can't but come as a surprise to see that the Americans have reached a trade agreement with Japan but are constantly at odds with the Europeans." (06/10/2015)


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Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Mankell was Sweden's conscience

Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell died on Monday aged 67. With his world-famous figure Inspector Kurt Wallander, Mankell denounced problems in society and politics, the liberal daily Dagens Nyheter points out: "Above all he dealt with the decline of the welfare state, but also with the fact that society - meaning primarily social democracy - has neglected its historical task of ensuring solidarity and justice. Mankell believed that today's politicians don't take politics seriously. For him, the most burning issues weren't about the economy but about how to renew solidarity and the idea that democracy must not be taken for granted. In his view as soon as the rule of law falls by the wayside revenge takes the fore, with the result that fascism and organised crime take root and thrive." (06/10/2015)


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La Stampa - Italy

France on the verge of nervous breakdown

Hundreds of employees of French airline Air France forced their way into a meeting between the company management and the works committee on Monday at which a plan involving 2,900 job cuts was to be finalised. Seven people were injured in the scuffles and two managers clambered over a fence to make their escape. Tensions are running high in France, the liberal daily La Stampa observes: "The images of managers making their escape tell a tale about more than just the trade unions' anger. They highlight the disorientation of a country that has lost its bearings. A country in which the politicians seem to have withdrawn into a fortress of self-centredness, incapable of announcing even the most basic decisions without them being immediately misinterpreted and leading to riots. It is a country on the verge of a cultural and political abyss that bears the name Marine Le Pen. The success of the Front National is an earthquake of momentous magnitude. These explosions of social anger are the dramatic symptoms of that earthquake." (06/10/2015)

Irish Examiner - Ireland

Bishops' synod offers chance of new beginning

The coming out of gay priest Krzysztof Charamsa has got the bishops' synod on the family in the Vatican off to a rough start, the liberal daily Irish Examiner observes, seeing a reorientation of the Catholic Church in this area as possible: "His position offends many conservative Catholics and it is reasonable to suggest that if you choose to be part of an organisation, you must observe its rules. However, it is equally true to suggest that if all gay priests were dismissed many parishes would be left without a minister. On the eve of the Rome Synod on the family it seems Catholicism's unwavering attitudes on gender and sexuality will overshadow nearly every other aspect of its teachings. Is it time to strike a better balance?" (05/10/2015)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Nobel would be proud of this medicine prize

Parasitologists from Ireland, China and Japan were named the winners of this year's Nobel Prize for Medicine on Monday. The liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza welcomes the Committee's decision: "This fulfills the wishes of Alfred Nobel, who wanted the prize to honour work that truly benefits humanity. And what could be more useful than a drug that cuts the number of malaria deaths by half? ... True, the average Pole has no fear of illnesses that are caused by parasites and knows practically nothing about them. But such diseases are part of daily life in many places in the world, although predominantly in the poorest countries. The time has come once again to point out that we are not the centre of the universe. The really big problems are not here, but elsewhere." (06/10/2015)

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