Dutch news in brief, Monday 16 November 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.
Mass readership up in arms at minister's plan
On Friday evening, the government announced its plans to replace car tax with a system charging motorists for their use of the roads per kilometre. Happy to start the week with a spot of minister-bashing, the mass-circulation De Telegraaf's headline screams: "Working people are the dupes".
It says Transport Minister Camiel Eurling's plan to equip all Dutch cars with a GPS box by 2018, which will register every kilometre driven, has unleashed a storm of criticism. The paper describes it as a spy-box.
Its readership apparently rejects government claims that the new system will not prove more expensive on average. The paper is happy to point out that motorists already pay 70 percent in taxes on petrol. Not only will they now have to pay to be allowed to drive to work, but family visits and even voluntary work will be hit, sobs the paper.
What the plan will mean?
nrc.next thinks the figures involved in the planned system remain largely a matter of conjecture but, without taking sides, it provides us with some details. Charges will depend on time and place, with environmentally friendly cars charged at a lower rate. The paper says driving gas-guzzling SUVs during the rush-hour in the major cities will become expensive.
The government reckons the system will bring about a 15 percent reduction in use of the roads, which, in turn, will mean traffic jams will be cut by half. Environmental pollution and noise should also fall.
The costs are complicated, with the minister claiming that, while driving a car will on average become more expensive, 59 percent of the motoring public will actually end up paying less than at present. Meanwhile, the scrapping of purchase tax on new cars will make them considerably cheaper.
Allowing us to end on a negative note, the AD points out that the Belgian government announced on Saturday that it too plans to introduce a compatible system. The Dutch enjoy making trips into Belgium to sample their southerly neighbours' good food and general bon vivre. The paper's inside headline reads: "Dutch soon also to be charged for driving in Belgium".
Football and career aren't everything
De Volkskrant picks up on the enormous interest in the Netherlands in the suicide of German goalkeeper Robert Enke. It runs a front-page photo of his coffin being carried onto the pitch of the crowded Hannover football club's stadium.
The goalie's tragic death, the result of chronic depression, has sparked an evaluation not only of professional football but also of society in general in Germany, and possibly also in the Netherlands. The paper quotes the chairman of the German Football Association as telling the crowd: "Football isn't everything. Football shouldn't be everything".
Enke is being seen as a victim not only of professional football, which permits no weaknesses, but also of modern society in which achievement is all and failure cannot even be talked about. The top goalie had for years been treated for depression and fear of failure, but kept his problems a secret, worrying that his career would suffer if they became known.
Dutch skating star out of Olympics
The papers all cover the news that three-time Olympic champion skater Marianne Timmer will not be fit in time for next year's Winter Games in Vancouver. She fell on Friday at the world championships in Heerenveen. Trouw says the psychological blow to the Dutch skating star was all the worse because the problem was initially diagnosed as a minor fracture to the ankle. At the weekend, an MRI scan showed multiple breaks in the bone.
"This is awful," she tells the paper. "My first thoughts are about Vancouver. That's the worst. Vancouver's been in my head for two years now. I've given up so much for it and got over enormous setbacks. When I was lying on the stretcher on Friday, I thought: it can't really be ending like this, can it?"
The Saint is here
Finally, the really big weekend news was Saturday's grand entrance of 'the Saint' to the Netherlands. On an inside page, the AD says Saint Nicholas made the journey from Spain, successfully landing in Schiedam on Saturday afternoon to the delight of a crowd of an estimated 40 -- 50,000 children.
But, on its front page, the paper has a photo of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Princess Máxima, their two young daughters on their shoulders, craning for a glimpse of the Saint arriving in... hang on a minute... in Scheveningen! Wow, that mediaeval Turkish bishop doesn't half get around, and quick.
Traditionally, children put their (empty) shoes out on the night of 5 December. However, de Volkskrant reports the Saint has instructed Dutch youngsters to start putting out their shoes early this year. The paper does not speculate what is behind the move. Could it be that he wants to put even more space between his special night and that of his Anglo-Saxon rival?
Radio Netheralnds/ Expatica