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El Tiempo - Colombia | 30/09/2014

Global perspectives: Avoid irreparable damage in Spain

The dispute between the Spanish central government and the independence-seeking region Catalonia has come to a head after Barcelona's plans for a referendum were put on hold by a court challenge from Madrid. But in a democracy it's never too late for consensus, the major Columbian newspaper El Tiempo admonishes: "The EU is clearly very concerned. If Catalonia gained independence it would face a dilemma. Although in theory the region would be automatically excluded from the EU, Brussels must take into account that the new state has an economy that is stronger and more dynamic than those of several of its members. ... Democracies can always find ways of avoiding painful breakups and reaching a consensus on the fundamental issues, in other words the commonalities. There is still time to prevent this collision between two trains from causing irreparable damage to the collective soul of the peoples." (30/09/2014)

ABC - Spain | 30/09/2014

Catalonia's separatists must be stopped

Spain's Constitutional Court has suspended Catalonia's planned independence referendum on Monday by agreeing to hear the Spanish central government's court challenge to the vote. This is the right response to the Catalonian regional government's scheming, the conservative and pro-centralist daily ABC comments: "Referendums are a matter for the state and no regional administrative authority has the right to carry out binding or non-binding referendums on affairs that can only be decided by the Spanish people, in whom according to the constitution all national sovereignty is vested. ... There can be no misunderstandings about yesterday's or future decisions of the Constitutional Court. The Catalan leader Arturo Mas has deliberately pushed Catalonia into a confrontation with the state. This is not a collision between two trains. There is only one train whose driver is bent on a suicidal mission to break the laws of the constitution." (30/09/2014)

Kurier - Austria | 30/09/2014

Commission hearings exemplary for all Europe

The questioning of the candidates for the new European Commission which began on Monday is a sign of functioning democracy in the liberal daily Kurier's view: "The hearings are by no means simply pleasant chats; the Brussels-based anti-lobby organisation Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has gathered incriminating evidence against four to six candidates. In some of these cases there are purportedly professional conflicts of interest that according to CEO should bar the person in question from occupying a high-ranking EU post. If at the end of their scrutiny the MEPs also reach this conclusion, Juncker would be well advised to take their concerns seriously. ... The main thing is that the scrutiny is fair. Party-political criteria have no place here. The sole purpose is to determine whether the candidates are competent and have a vision for the future of the EU. If these requirements are fulfilled, the hearings will not only give Juncker's team legitimacy but can also serve as a model for ministerial hearings at a national level." (30/09/2014)

Libération - France | 29/09/2014

Victorious UMP must fear Front National

In the French senate election on Sunday, two representatives of the far-right Front National (FN) won seats in the French upper house for the first time. That should give the conservatives pause for thought, the left-liberal daily Libération believes: "The election of two FN senators shows yet again that the party of the Le Pen family is gaining ground, and that local politicians who aren't party members no longer hesitate to vote for FN and show their dissatisfaction with the traditional parties. Even if this election doesn't confirm that the far right is knocking on the doors of power, it does demonstrate that Marine Le Pen's strategy for making her party respectable is paying off. She is patiently laying the groundwork for her conquest and licking her lips in anticipation of next year's departmental and regional elections. Faced with this reality, the right would be very wrong to be elated by its victory. Because despite the success of the UMP, part of its voter base is sliding toward the far right." (29/09/2014)

România Liberă - Romania | 30/09/2014

Microsoft scandal allows Romanian fresh start

The Romanian National Anti-Corruption Authority DNA plans to open investigations against nine ex-ministers. According to FBI investigations into US software giant Microsoft they were bribed into signing software contracts. The conservative daily România Liberă hopes the whole affair will be thoroughly investigated: "The investigations will hit all the parties hard. As they were launched in the US, there practically zero risk that high-ranking politicians will be spared. ... Once details emerge about the main offenders' misdeeds there will also be details about those of their respective parties and business associates. ... Multiply each major computer contract in Romania by five to ten persons and you'll get an idea of the size of this battalion that has wasted hundred of millions in state funds. ... Breaking off the investigations would be a fiasco. ... A historic opportunity to thoroughly purge Romanian politics of corruption would be missed. A fresh start 25 years after the revolution." (30/09/2014)

Kettős Mérce - Hungary | 29/09/2014

Budapest's left betrays its values

The mayoral election campaign in Budapest took a surprising turn on Monday when the candidate of the united left-wing alliance, Ferenc Falus, withdrew, ceding his place to the chairman of the Movement for a Modern Hungary, former finance minister Lajos Bokros. The left is betraying its values, journalist András Jámbor writes in the opinion portal Kettős Mérce: "The left is making a mistake if it supports Bokros. ... For a leftist voter, someone for whom the fight against poverty and for equal opportunities has top priority, voting for Bokros is simply inconceivable. Especially in an election that's already decided [the conservative incumbent István Tarlós is the overwhelming favourite]. ... And at the same time it's completely incomprehensible that the left is abandoning its values in this way. ... A leftist who votes for Bokros is giving up his political convictions." (29/09/2014)

24 Sata - Croatia | 29/09/2014

New Green party is Croatia's big hope

According to recent polls the environmentalist party Orah, established just a year ago, is already the second most powerful party in Croatia. For the first time it has outstripped the Social Democrats, making it the decisive factor in next year's parliamentary elections, the tabloid 24 Sata writes: "Party founder Mirela Holy is considered an honest politician who [as environment minister] left the Social Democrats when the party refused to go along with her programme. She will push through her own ideas. Croatia needs such believable politicians who are ready to present a clear programme and stick to it at all costs without double-dealing or sweet phrases that are forgotten the moment they enter parliament or government. Holy benefits from such an image. Nevertheless, potential voters who are dissatisfied with the bipolarity [HDZ - SDP] of politics in Croatia should also read her party platform." (29/09/2014)

Le Figaro - France | 29/09/2014

Hollande loses Senate power base too

The conservatives emerged as the clear winners of the elections to the French Senate on Sunday, winning 145 seats to 112 for the governing Socialist Party. Yet another defeat for the country's president, the conservative daily Le Figaro writes: "François Hollande was ready for it, it's true. Nevertheless the loss in the Senate comes as yet another setback. A second parliamentary front has opened for the executive: until now it had an uncontrollable majority in the National Assembly. Now it has lost its fragile majority [in the Senate] and must face a majority that is hostile to it. For François Hollande, the impact of this vote is less institutional than symbolic. After the losses in the European elections, this Sunday's vote is the second step in a long descent into hell. ... The PS, which had become a party of local notables, is now losing its last bastions." (29/09/2014)

Revista 22 - Romania | 29/09/2014

Romanian Hungarians more radical than ever

The Hungarian association in Romania UDMR is calling for an autonomous Hungarian province of "Szeklerland" in Transylvania to be enshrined in the county's constitution. It demands that the province be given sweeping rights of self-administration including the right to levy its own taxes, with Hungarian as the official language. There are three reasons for the radical nature of this project, the weekly paper Revista 22 writes: "Firstly, the rise of the Jobbik party's nationalist extremists in Hungary has caused Fidesz, the governing party in Budapest, to adopt a more radical discourse. Secondly, the annexation of Crimea and the Scottish referendum - albeit unsuccessful - have triggered a wave of fervour among separatist movements across Europe. Thirdly, the UDMR must bow to the nationalist discourse of Orbán's government in Budapest. After all, the Hungarians in Romania follow politics in Hungary on the TV. ... If the the Romanian leadership sees the UDMR project as relatively harmless, it's also because it could prevent far more problematic situations, such as violent street protests in Transylvania spurred on by Jobbik." (29/09/2014)

T24 - Turkey | 28/09/2014

Turkey pursuing its own goals in Syria

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has for the first time adopted a harsh tone in the fight against the IS. Without ground troops the terrorist militia can't be fought, he said on Friday, and called for the creation of a no-fly zone over Syria. But the latter in particular also serves Turkey's own interests, the liberal Internet paper T24 believes: "With this proposal Ankara wants to restrict the movement of the Syrian regime's planes, because apart from the planes of the anti-IS coalition they are the only ones that fly there at all. ... Ankara is trying to pass this strategy off as a new idea in the fight against the IS, but it isn't new at all. Its goal isn't as much to fight the IS as to strengten the Sunni front against Syrian President Assad. If Ankara succeeds in convincing the West - and particularly the US - of this strategy, it could kill two birds with one stone. ... On the one hand Assad, and on the other the PKK [Kurdish Workers' Party in Turkey] or PYD [Kurdish Party in Syria], which despite the peace process Ankara is once again referring to as a 'terrorist organisation'." (28/09/2014)

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