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The Irish Times - Ireland | 21/09/2014

Scottish trigger revolution in England

The Scottish independence referendum will cause a political earthquake after all - but it will be in England, the left-liberal daily Irish Times argues: "Both the enhanced powers and the promise of maintaining the generous terms of the Scottish financial settlement have added fuel to the raging fire fuelled by Ukip over Europe - the issues of Scotland and the UK's future in the EU are intimately intertwined. Cameron's Yes victory by no means gets him out of the woods. And such is his concern at an English backlash that the prime minister promised twice in his short speech that English reform must take place 'in tandem with, and at the same pace as' the settlement for Scotland. That is no mean challenge, given that the Scots have been promised legislation by the spring, and it also raises the prospect of the issues becoming fodder in next year's general election campaign." (21/09/2014)

Super Express - Poland | 22/09/2014

Poland's new PM has already showed herself up

Answering a journalist's question of whether Poland should supply weapons to Ukraine, the country's new Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz responded that Poland must behave like a sensible housewife and take care of the home and the children first. This response triggered a hail of criticism. Tomasz Walczak of the conservative tabloid Super Express is likewise appalled: "She's obviously a bit out of her depth in her new role. Instead of the triumphant dawn of a new era in Polish politics we have witnessed a paralysed woman prime minister who seemed disoriented even when doing something as trivial as presenting her new government. There are times in life when you feel embarrassed for other people. And this is precisely how I felt when I heard her speech. ... After such a debut it's hard to believe Kopacz will be able to govern successfully." (22/09/2014)

Slate - France | 20/09/2014

Sarkozy comeback no blessing for the left

France's ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed his return to politics on Sunday in a televised interview. But the return of the Socialists' favourite foe is by no means good news for the left, the online magazine Slate warns: "His return is bad news because it's also the return of anti-Sarkozyism and of the left's ideal adversary. ... If anyone, Sarkozy is the man who can rekindle the Socialists' hopes for [the presidential elections of] 2017 and make them forget the economic and political reality. … Above all, Sarkozy is an excuse for them to be intellectually and politically lazy. … But while he's their favourite enemy he's also their greatest threat: both the perfect bogeyman and the man who stopped them from asking serious questions about political responsibility. It was he who prevented the left from trying to think through a social project that would mobilise popular support in the long-term." (20/09/2014)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden | 22/09/2014

Complicated power sharing in Afghanistan

After months of wrangling over who becomes president following Afghanistan's presidential election, the two candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah signed an agreement on Sunday for a power-sharing unity government. Ghani was declared the winner of the presidential election while Abdullah gets the new post of head of government. The liberal daily Dagens Nyheter is sceptical about this solution: "The two politicians have agreed to divide the appointments - but whether this will work will be a matter of interpretation. It remains to be seen whether they can find a common political approach or whether the whole thing was just about posts. ... Ghani announced early on that the 'winner take all' principle can't work. Now he must show that he is serious about this. And Abdullah and his camp must bury the hatchet too. Meanwhile the US and the rest of the world still bear responsibility for the struggling people of Afghanistan. There are still many traps to negotiate." (22/09/2014)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden | 19/09/2014

Sweden Democrats also entitled to posts

Following fierce debate and because of their strong performance in the parliamentary elections, the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats were granted one of the vice-president posts in the Swedish parliament on Thursday. The liberal daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter sees the move as correct: "Now that the SD has been given this post, one can expect it to act appropriately and appoint one of its more moderate representatives. At the same time we can also expect the other members [of parliament] to treat the SD members respectfully - and to remember that the holder of the office is a representative of our parliamentary democracy. For the opponents of the SD it would have been best if the latter hadn't got into parliament at all. But it's there now. Democracy has done its work. The party must now be countered with facts and arguments in open debates." (19/09/2014)

El Mundo - Spain | 19/09/2014

France's anti-terrorism law examplary

France's National Assembly on Thursday passed anti-terror legislation which Paris hopes will stop French citizens from joining the terrorist Islamic State. Suspects may now be prevented from leaving the country and websites aimed at recruitment blocked. France is setting a good example, the conservative daily El Mundo applauds: "The EU states find themselves forced to tighten their laws to counter jihadism. Preventing citizens born or raised in the West from becoming IS terrorists is now a priority, mainly because of the risk that these new mujaheddin return determined to carry out attacks after having fought in Syria or Iraq. ... This is not about losing freedom to gain security but about creating an effective penal and deterrent system while protecting basic rights." (19/09/2014)

Delo - Slovenia | 19/09/2014

No honeymoon for Slovenia's new government

Two months after snap parliamentary elections Slovenia once again has a government. On Thursday evening the parliament approved an alliance put together by Prime Minister Miro Cerar between his SMC party, the pensioners' party DeSUS and the Social Democrats. The coalition is under pressure right from the start, the left-liberal daily Delo comments: "The new government must make urgent decisions, first of all about privatisation and fixing public finances. ... It won't, as is customary, have 100 days without criticism to familiarise itself with its task. Any new government inspires hopes that in one, two or four years things will improve. ... After his big election victory will Prime Minister Miro Cerar manage to reverse the trend of distrust of the executive and the politicians? ... We very much hope the new government will play together as an effective team under a coach with a clear vision." (19/09/2014)

Etelä-Suomen-Sanomat - Finland | 19/09/2014

Helsinki is tough on Moscow after all

Finland's Greens have withdrawn from the government after the latter decided to stick to the Finnish-Russian group Fennovoima's controversial plans for a nuclear power plant in Pyhäjoki. The outgoing Green environmental minister Ville Niinistö had criticised Russia's strong influence on the project. This is nonsense, the liberal daily Etelä-Suomen Sanomat counters: "Niinistö has made history because never before has the accusation of Finlandisation [a strong neighbouring state having too much influence in a country] come from government ranks. … This is utter nonsense. Today's Finland is light years away from the Finland of the Cold War that always took the interests of its eastern neighbour into account and would never have dared join in on sanctions against it. With this faux pas Niinistö has done the government a disservice upon his departure. It will have an even harder time convincing the other EU states that Finland won't step out of line when it comes to persuading Russia to make peace in Ukraine." (19/09/2014)

Le Figaro - France | 18/09/2014

Hollande wants no more talk of reforms

Speaking on Thursday in the fourth biannual press conference of his term in office, France's President François Hollande focused on international crisis management. Domestic reforms have been wiped from the controversial head of state's agenda, the conservative daily Le Figaro concludes: "It's not easy to follow this president. He implicitly acknowledges that his policies are a failure, but he denies anyone else the right to propose an alternative. Revise an obsolete social model? He won't hear of it. Work out a genuine and ambitious austerity plan? Nope. Relax the 35-hour work week regulations? Out of the question. Mass dismissals in the public sector and the state apparatus? No, no, a thousand times no. For lack of a truly audacious and goal-oriented policy, the president of the republic is condemning himself to a long-term practice of self-justification that won't convince a soul but will plunge the country into ruin." (18/09/2014)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany | 19/09/2014

Putin's empty threats against Nato

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly said in a phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko that Russian troops would be able to take Warsaw, Riga or Vilnius within two weeks. Poroshenko informed European Commission President José Manuel Barroso of this last week. The conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung believes Putin is just trying to conceal his weaknesses with this threat: "If Putin is indeed boasting about his military options in conversations with Western or Ukrainian politicians this would be an indication of the true state of Russia's power. In its response to the sanctions we could already observe that the Kremlin has few economic instruments to counter the pressure of the West; its trump card is the threat of violence. This threat needn't be taken all too seriously when it comes to states that are members of Nato. Even Putin won't risk a war with the alliance because of Ukraine." (19/09/2014)

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