Dutch news in brief, Monday 17 August 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.Freedom Party pulls out of 2010 municipal elections
Most papers report this weekend’s decision by Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders to not participate in the 2010 municipal elections.
The leader of the populist and fiercely anti-Muslim party, who has in recent months been the leading party in the opinion polls, will only compete in The Hague and Almere, large cities where he scored well in this year’s European Parliamentary elections. Instead, he wants to devote his resources to the parliamentary elections in 2011.
In the European Parliamentary elections, the Freedom Party was the largest party in 92 Dutch towns.
In de Volkskrant, Green Left leader Femke Halsema attacked Wilders for not taking part in the municipal elections and described the decision as an “admission of weakness”.
The Freedom Party leader explained his reason to avoid the municipal elections in AD.
“We have not found enough people whom I’d fully trust.”
By taking part in the elections without suitable candidates, Wilders said he would be shooting himself in the foot.
De Volkskrant says the choice again proves that the Freedom Party is a “centrally-led one-man’s party and intends to remain so”. “The Freedom Party does not have members nor committees.
In an interview with de Volkskrant in June, Wilders said: “I do not agree with the idea that a party with a membership is the only democratic form.”
The newspaper said he feared losing control of the party to the “wrong kind of people”. “I learned my lesson from the List Fortuyn.”
The List Fortuyn was the party founded by Pim Fortuyn who was assassinated a week before the parliamentary elections in 2002. The party collapsed as a result of internal squabbling among unqualified and quickly chosen candidates after the death of the party’s leader.
In an editorial, AD editor-in-chief Peter de Jonge said: “Geert Wilders has again surprised the established parties with a smart move… A wise decision since adventurers in city councils are often unpredictable and all too often take to brawling head over heel… Repeated instances of negative publicity about local mishaps can be fatal. This is what the traditional parties were hoping for. They could care less if it damages local administration, as long as it ruins the Freedom Party. The whining of the political competition over Wilders’ decision speaks volumes about the political establishment.”
Hackers meet to discuss cracking of mobile phones
AD reports on last weekend’s hacker festival, Hacking at Random, which took place in the town of Vierhouten.
Karsten Nohl appealed to fellow hackers at the festival to form a network of 80 computers in an attempt to crack the codes of all of the world’s mobile telephones.
Nohl said hackers are not criminals but merely people who want to show “the poor security of mobile phones and prevent large-scale cyber-criminality”. He sees this as a wake-up call to governments and large companies.
Free newspaper Spits adds that soon everyone will be able to listen to (anyone else’s) mobile phone call.
The paper writes the Chaos Computer Club in Berlin has already put software on the internet which will enable 80 internet users aged 15 years old to break the secret codes within three months.
According to Nohl: “If you can crack technology, should you blame the hacker, or the bank which is responsible for the use of unsafe technology?”
How many calories do you get from licking an envelope?
The Netherlands Nutrition Centre receives all kinds of questions from the public about food, many of them concerning the number of calories.
Spits writes many of the questions asked are unusual. They include a caller who wanted to know how many calories one received from licking the glue off an envelope and another who had a lot of cans of dog food left and asked if he should used them himself.
According to a centre spokesperson, Roy van der Ploeg says one woman called and said: “I swallowed sperm. How many calories did I consume?”
The paper writes that the answer is: “Very few.”
Employers shed crocodile tears
The chairman of the Federation of Netherlands Trade Unions (FNV) is accusing the government of not doing much to increase the number of old people in the work force despite talks to raise retirement age.
Henk van der Kolk told de Telegraaf nothing has been done to increase the number of older people in the labour force and that getting rid of workers above the age of 55 is a "structural policy".
The trade union leader also commented on a recent proposal by the employers' organisation VNO-NCW to lower the pension costs for employers.
"They are shedding crocodile tears," sneered Van der Kolk. "What surprises me is that filling gaps in the pension for senior managers always finds its way into the labour contract. They are now complaining that everything is so expensive, but they have always been able to see to it that they themselves are well cared for."
Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica