Press review | 26/05/2015



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Duda becomes Poland's new president

Andrzej Duda worked closely with Lech Kaczyński, who died in a plane crash in 2010. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


Andrzej Dudas' victory in Poland's presidential election on Sunday means that for the first time in five years a politician belonging to the nationalist conservative PiS party will occupy a leading position in Poland. Some commentators say that current president Bronisław Komorowski's defeat was the result of his arrogance. Others point out that Duda owes his victory mainly to Poland's young.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Dissatisfied Polish youths helped Duda

Andrzej Duda owes his victory to the dissatisfied Polish youth, the centre-right daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung comments: "Under its smooth surface, the 'model pupil' Poland that made it through the European economic and financial crisis of the past years without a recession is seething. The younger generation is suffering most. Youth unemployment is high and the young have less job protection and less pay than their older colleagues. ... Bureaucratic obstacles and deep distrust in the state have caused almost 2.5 million primarily young, well educated Poles to leave for Western Europe. If Andrzej Duda and the PiS manage to regenerate Poland and offer the young better prospects, it would no doubt be good for the country. Nevertheless it is to be feared that Poland's youthful glow will soon be tarnished by the PiS's backward-looking ideology." (26/05/2015)

Gość Niedzielny - Poland

Komorowski's arrogance led to his downfall

Encumbent Polish President Bronisław Komorowski has his own arrogance to blame for his defeat, the Catholic website Gość Niedzielny comments: "Many commentators are wondering how it was possible for a rational and predictable politician who only six months ago enjoyed such a high level of public trust to lose the election. He lost because he told the voters that the country would return to the Dark Ages if he didn't win. In so doing he discredited an entire group of voters. Komorowski led a negative campaign against a weaker opponent, with the support of the state institutions and a large part of the media. And even after the results were announced, he didn't understand what the voters were trying to tell him. Yet a change of president is something entirely natural in a democracy." (26/05/2015)

Dennik N - Slovakia

Duda's election bad news for EU

For the liberal daily Dennik N the outcome of Poland's presidential election is appalling: "Andrzej Duda's victory is bad news for the EU, for our region and for Poland itself. If Duda remains loyal to his party leader Kaczyński this could be the start of profound and negative changes. … Duda embodies the section of Polish society that is close to neo-Nazi football fans and ultra-Catholic movements. … Another even worse problem could be his views on European integration, common security and Russia, which in some cases are even more radical than those of his mentor Jarosław Kaczyński. ... An ominous scenario awaits if the rocker Pavel Kukiz wins the parliamentary elections. That would create a Viktor Orbán-like mentality to the north of the Tatra Mountains, but four-times bigger and richer and far more ambitious. Looks like we're in for some fun and games." (26/05/2015)

The Times - United Kingdom

A new ally for Britain

Britain should take advantage of the fact that Andrzej Duda shares its doubts about the EU, the conservative daily The Times comments: "Mr Duda has already made plain his suspicion about the EU becoming an 'ever deeper union'; he stresses the need to recover more national sovereignty and speaks out on what he calls the 'tendencies to create a hierarchy in the EU'. ... All these aims should be supported by Britain. A common language can be found with a Poland that is worried about the migration of its young people, the brain drain, the exodus from the countryside and the strains on families left behind when breadwinners head for Britain." (25/05/2015)


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La Vanguardia - Spain

Rajoy must face consequences after election setback

Despite his party's heavy losses in Spain's local and regional elections, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy ruled out the possibility of a change of course or his resignation from the Partido Popular (PP) leadership on Monday. The conservative daily La Vanguardia urges the party to reorient: "How should the PP react? Clearly it should change its message and introduce more ambitious goals that enable it to reconnect with the people and, above all, with the voters it has lost. But that wasn't the image Rajoy conveyed yesterday when he faced the press regarding the election results - 24 hours late. … Rajoy said yesterday that he still believes he's the PP's best candidate for the general elections [in December]. So far no one in the party is openly questioning his leadership, but the voices calling for a change of course are growing louder." (26/05/2015)

Le Soir - Belgium

Votes in Spain and Poland highlight frustration

The rise in popularity of Podemos and other new parties in Spain, as well as Duda's victory in Poland signal a growing rift between established politicians and voters in Europe who are looking for something new, the liberal daily Le Soir believes. "It's never simple, but our political elites must think twice before they reject alternatives offhand. The same goes for when they paint horror scenarios about what could happen if they are not elected. And alternatives must be sought to the current way of dealing with the challenges posed by the environment, health, employment, social cohesion and identity. The debate on the free trade agreement with the US is a further example of this trial of strength. Belgian philosopher Benoît Frydman recently commented that politics today is the sphere where creativity and innovation are least apparent. One must add that many politicians are themselves to blame for their powerlessness when they declare that there is no alternative to their policies." (25/05/2015)

Berliner Zeitung - Germany

Germany should follow suit on gay marriage

After the Irish vote in favour of same-sex marriages, many politicians in Germany are also calling for more rights for gays and lesbians. The conservative governing parties CDU and CSU oppose the move, however. Germany should follow the Irish example, the centre-left daily Berliner Zeitung urges: "It's tantamount to a social and political revolution when the people of this predominantly Catholic country vote in favour of anchoring so-called gay marriages in the constitution. It's a striking vote for the equality of every type of registered partnership at a time when homophobia is the political order of the day in a growing number of countries. ... Here in Germany, the Irish vote should prompt us to abandon our faint-hearted reservations. Not only would that foster a sense of justice at home, it would also help to defend persecuted homosexuals in every corner of the world." (26/05/2015)

LRT - Lithuania

Putin puts a brake on Eastern Partnership

Ukraine was not given any concrete prospects of EU accession and Armenia and Belarus failed to condemn Russia's annexation of Crimea at last week's EU summit on the Eastern Partnership in Riga. The whole project has been called into question, former politician Vytautas Plečkaitis complains on the website of the Lituanian broadcaster LRT: "Russia and Putin cast a long shadow over the summit in Riga. Putin's response to Ukraine's ambitions to join the EU and Nato [announced at the EU summit in Vilnius two years ago] was the annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine. ... But neither the EU nor the US want to clash swords with Russia over Ukraine. ... Although the final declaration was accepted by all member states, unfortunately it was so watered down that the Eastern Partnership that first saw the light six years ago has effectively been put on ice. Hopefully not forever though." (25/05/2015)

Mandiner - Hungary

Juncker's slap for Orbán hits all of Hungary

At the Eastern Partnership summit last week in Riga European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker greeted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán with the words "Hello, dictator" and jokingly slapped his face. An outrageous gesture directed at all Hungary, journalist Gábor Kardos writes on the Mandiner blog portal: "What Juncker did to Orbán is an unprecedented insolence in the history of diplomacy. … Dear readers, do you think it's acceptable to injure the prime minister's dignity, regardless of what you think of his politics? … Not to mention the country's dignity. This indignity was a slap in the face for Hungary too, because unfortunately the person who was subjected to it was representing the country in that particular situation. That means that it was also a slap in the face for all Hungarians." (25/05/2015)


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Večernji List - Croatia

Croatia needs help spending money

The EU plans to set up a task force led by the Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu to help Croatia access the full amount of EU funding at its disposal. It's embarassing, but Croatia clearly needs help here, the conservative daily Večernji List observes: "What looks like a rap on the knuckles for the worst pupil is in fact just a detention. And it's good that at least someone's there to help us. Now we must make up for lost opportunities. To this end the task force has come with a clear and simple message: give us something, some project that's at least been prepared a little so that we can spend the money reserved for you in the European budget. Because as things stand now we've all got egg on our face. ... Croatia simply doesn't have enough projects prepared to the stage at which work on them could start tomorrow. The EU has put the money on the table but we're completely unprepared." (26/05/2015)


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La Stampa - Italy

France's politicians should go to the movies

Dheepan, a French drama about migrants, has won the Palm d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and other French directors and actors also won awards. But France's politicians should be careful with their applause, the liberal daily La Stampa comments tongue in cheek: "French film has triumphed in Cannes. But has France triumphed too? Or doesn't this harsh, elitist, stern and socially committed film completely do away with the idea of a triumphant France? … Have the politicians who praise this success with words full of typical national pride actually seen these films? Do they realise that they showcase the failures of their policies? … The next film by Agnès Varda deals with men and women who live from the leftovers of Paris's markets. It may be finished by 2017, the year of the presidential elections. Then those who are now praising France's success [in Cannes] will have to celebrate their own impending political fiasco." (26/05/2015)


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Blog Pitsirikos - Greece

Only thing that can help Greeks is bankruptcy

The head of the EU's ESM bailout fund, Klaus Regling, warned last week that Greece is facing bankruptcy. If Greece were to go bankrupt at least it would serve to make clear to the Greeks how bad their situation really is, blogger Pitsirikos comments sarcastically: "Five years after the country received its first bailout most Greeks still don't realised what a state the country is in. There are many who believe we'll soon experience more 'golden years' like those before 2008. Naturally the left-wing Syriza alliance is also responsible for this because it promised the voters so much even though it knew that it wouldn't be able to keep them if the country was to stay in the Eurozone. ... Greek society is only interested in money. I hope our insolvent country will soon officially go bankrupt. It would do Greek society good and finally lead to meaningful and sensible changes." (24/05/2015)

Sabah - Turkey

West's sadness over Palmyra hypocritical

The conquest of the Syrian city Palmyra by the IS terrorist organisation has sparked a wave of international indignation. But the West's laments are the result of colonialist sentiments, the pro-government daily Sabah believes: "The UN isn't in a position to prevent the massacres taking place before its eyes, but when one or two stones are moved around everyone mans the barricades! The West lays claim to monuments, relics and treasures all around the world. And if you touch them you're violating the West's borders. That goes as much for Palmyra as it does for the statues of Buddha in Afghanistan. ... But when the beautiful Ömer Mosque in Damascus or the Emevi Mosque in Aleppo were bombed by the regime's jets, no one so much as batted an eyelid. Because the West doesn't consider them historical relics or care when they're destroyed." (26/05/2015)

Ziare - Romania

Migrants don't help Romania at ESC

With its song about the children of Romanian labour migrants, the band Voltaj had hoped to get extra points from Italy and Spain, where many Romanian guest workers have settled. But the strategy of appealing to the voters' consciences backfired, the website comments: "It seems we don't understand these people or what was behind their dramatic decision to migrate even if it meant leaving their children behind. They didn't travel through Europe out of a desire for adventure or because they were bored. And they didn't leave their children with relatives because they'd had enough of them. Most of them emigrated because they saw no alternative for their own survival or that of their children. ... And perhaps they can identify more with the chorus of the winning song, which is appropriate for them and their children: We are the heroes of our time." (26/05/2015)


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Eesti Rahvusringhääling - Estonia

Hashtag activism unites society

The far-right Estonian politician Jaak Madison tweeted last week about a song in Russian that was played during a basketball game, using the hashtag #absurd. This triggered a campaign in which many used the same hashtag to poke fun at Madison. The website of the Estonian national broadcaster is delighted at this reaction: "Online activism is usually a short-lived phenomenon. The topic soon goes out of fashion to be replaced by something new. And yet online activism can have a positive impact. Firstly campaigns like the #absurd campaign on Twitter create virtual communities. Like-minded people come together and realise that they're not alone in the way they think and feel. Even if the consequence is a fragmented world in which communities live in parallel realities, such campaigns help to promote trust in society and improve the climate of political debate." (22/05/2015)

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