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POLITICS

Magyar Nemzet - Hungary | 30/10/2014

Internet tax would be completely senseless

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán withdrew plans for an Internet tax today, Friday, in the wake of massive public protest. The pro-government conservative daily Magyar Nemzet - usually sparing with its criticism of the government - also sees no point to the tax: "If after landslide victories for the governing party Fidesz in three elections in one year [local, national and European] tens of thousands of demonstrators are now calling for the resignation of the prime minister and his government, there's something strange going on in our country's politics. ... The Internet tax hits everyone in this country, and it's a symbol for the backwardness of the government. The harm it would cause is incalculable. Not only would it make people's daily life less bearable, it would also be seen as a curtailment of democracy and the freedom of opinion." (30/10/2014)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany | 31/10/2014

Putin's worrying airforce manoeuvres

Nato has reported an "unusual level" of Russian air activity over European airspace in the last two days. According to the alliance in total 26 Russian aircraft were intercepted on Tuesday and Wednesday. The left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung is concerned: "According to Nato, Russia's air force has tripled its activities in the sky over Europe. That doesn't amount to a new Cold War but it does mean that the communication forms of the Cold War are being revived. Military displays on land, water and in the air always contain a message for the opponent, of which 'Take me seriously' is the most important. ... The Cold War at least followed a reliable, if perverse, kind of logic. After decades of exercises the West and East knew pretty well what to expect from each other. Today Vladimir Putin's intentions are much more of an enigma." (31/10/2014)

Wiener Zeitung - Austria | 31/10/2014

Anti-Obama takes charge of EU Commission

The new European Commission under Jean Claude Juncker officially starts its work on Saturday. The Luxembourgian Juncker may not be such a charismatic politician but he has other qualities, the liberal state-owned daily Wiener Zeitung explains: "Europe's elite so much wanted a continental counterpart to Barack Obama with his 'Yes, we can'. What they got is a master of tactical compromise, an old-school deal-maker. Juncker is a back room politician, not a showman. In none of the three languages he speaks is he able to bring his audience to their feet. But in contrast to the brilliant orator Obama he knows how to forge alliances and compromises, how to ensnare his opponents and keep his team on his side. ... Europe needs a strategist for its long-term goals and a skilled tactician to master short-term adversities. ... That's the job description - and the flesh-and-blood Juncker fits it far better than the make-believe European Obama." (31/10/2014)

Adevărul - Romania | 31/10/2014

Banalities dominate Romanian election campaign

Shortly before Romania's presidential election on Sunday journalist Mircea Vasilescu describes the election campaign as devoid of political content in the blog of the liberal-conservative daily Adevărul: "Instead the numerous TV stations, websites and newspapers focused on things like how many houses [opposition candidate] Iohannis owns or whether there are secret service spies among the candidates. ... The public, which is used to the tabloids, clearly isn't interested in the skills or qualities of the new president. All it cares about is new revelations about the private lives of the candidates. ... What's worse? That we have a dirty election campaign or one in which we rack our brains about trivialities? If our future president turns out to be weak and incompetent it will be too late to regret it." (31/10/2014)

La Stampa - Italy | 30/10/2014

Napolitano's Mafia-questioning a red herring

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano was questioned on Tuesday in connection with the Palermo mafia trial centred on alleged agreements between the mafia and the Italian state in the 1990s. The hearing took place in Rome behind closed doors. The interrogation is a ruse by the state prosecutors to divert attention from the real inconsistencies in the trial, mafia expert Francesco La Licata complains in the liberal daily La Stampa: "All that has been gathered, put on file and published a thousand times has suddenly become 'Napolitano's truth'. As if the president were the only guardian of secrets that have finally been exposed. But is that really the case? Hardly. ... Nevertheless the trick of presenting Napolitano as the custodian of unspeakable truths has worked. It is diverting attention from the glaring inconsistencies in the trial, which have simply been written off as minor incidents in the 'rites of Palermo'." (30/10/2014)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany | 30/10/2014

Road toll still a mistake after modifications

German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt of the CSU has revised his road toll plans and now wants to charge non-German residents only for using the country's motorways. The conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung takes an amused look at what's left of the once ambitious plans: "The piquant aspect for the smallest governing party [the CSU] is that it was not the unloved social democrats who cut its showcase project down to size, but its sister party the CDU. [CSU chairman and Bavarian prime minister] Seehofer's squire [Dobrindt] can't ride into Munich as the glorious victor. Because even the most basic flaws in the toll have not been resolved: it brings in too little money and it stands a good chance of being copied in countries like Belgium or the Netherlands, where even some inhabitants of beautiful Bavaria may stray from time to time. And of course what's now emerged is an administrative framework which could be used later on to introduce a road toll that raises enough cash to remove more than just the political potholes - in any case then German drivers would also have to pay." (30/10/2014)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland | 30/10/2014

London and Bern not really united on immigration

British Prime Minister David Cameron is considering introducing immigration quotas for EU citizens, according to media reports. For Switzerland, which has already requested a renegotiation of the free movement of persons with the EU, Cameron's move is advantageous only at first glance, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes: "If Cameron is successful in getting other EU states on his side, the disagreements with Switzerland may also be resolved. Bern could have discreetly waited to see how the conflict between London and Brussels developed if the initiators hadn't set a three-year deadline for the mass immigration initiative, thus weakening Switzerland's negotiating position. Now Switzerland is under pressure, and its call for negotiations on the free movement of persons threatens to become a test case for how the EU will deal with the demands from London. This, however, would put Switzerland at a disadvantage, as it would make it even more difficult for the hardliners in the EU Commission and among the EU member states to show a willingness to compromise with Switzerland." (30/10/2014)

Financial Times - United Kingdom | 29/10/2014

Spaniards remain loyal to corrupt politicians

After a series of corruption scandals dozens of politicians, government officials and entrepreneurs have been arrested this week in Spain. The Spaniards are shocked by the scandals but that won't change their behaviour at the ballot, the conservative daily Financial Times predicts: "The gulf between the right and the left is so deep that many voters seem ready to hold their nose and stick with their party despite corruption scandals. Crossing the left-right divide is, for many voters, simply not an option. ...Looking at the recent past, however, it is hard to escape a simple conclusion: Spanish voters are furious with their political leaders, and care deeply about the apparent wave of corruption cases - but often not quite enough to vote for the other guy." (29/10/2014)

24 Chasa - Bulgaria | 28/10/2014

Power trips hinder formation of government

After the Bulgarian parliamentary elections on October 5 the coalition talks are now entering their third round without any signs of an agreement among the parties. The daily 24 Chasa has already given up any hope of a stable government with clear goals: "The parties want power more than anything else, but they fear each other and fear the responsibilities that clear political commitments entail. For them, power is like a beautiful woman with whom they want a one night stand but not a serious relationship. That's the way our political elite is today: corrupt, fearful, incompetent and incapable of turning the trust of the voters into a halfway stable government. ... The parties are so weak and fearful that they won't agree to anything but little details. Why? Because most of them are responsible for the stagnating economy, the rotten state apparatus and the lack of social perspectives." (28/10/2014)

Trouw - Netherlands | 29/10/2014

EU contribution system outdated

The Netherlands has called on the EU to give member states more time to meet the latter's demands for additional payments. After the UK was called on to pay extra, the Netherlands has also been told to contribute  an additional 642 million euros. The Hague has called for the EU to publish its budget calculations. The Christian social daily Trouw supports the country's stance: "Finance Minister Dijsselbloem is quite right to demand to see the data from the other countries before he transfers the money to Brussels. Fortunately this corrects the impression that the Netherlands violates previous agreements just because the consequences are unpleasant. A few parties in parliament are unfortunately insisting on such a course. But this raises the question of whether the EU's contribution system is outdated. Contributions, demands for extra payments and adjustments - it's one surprise after another in this circus. That would be a thing of the past if the member states let the EU put together its own big tax system. But unfortunately this discussion is impossible to have in the current Eurosceptic climate." (29/10/2014)


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