Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 27 October 2009

27th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Relief as Labour members back pension plan
The Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) voted Monday evening in favour of a hotly disputed plan to raise the pension age from 65 to 67.

Despite worries of a grass-roots revolt, de Volkskrant reports “the party members were easier to convince than expected… with nine out of ten voting in favour”.

A front-page photo in De Telegraaf shows party leader Wouter Bos grinning as the deciding vote was cast. The paper reckons the party’s leaders were seized by a mixture of “elation” and “relief” as “a rejection of the plan would have undermined the party’s leadership and created problems for the government coalition”.

Trouw describes the meeting leading up to the vote as “an emotional debate between the members and the party leadership”.

Some members told their leaders they “would be better off breaking up the coalition than breaking with their own grass roots” and slammed the pension plan as “an indecent decision being taken in an indecent way”.

Union leaders made no bones about where they stood, adopting the slogan: “The government’s plan is a piece of shit. Make sure you don’t step in it.”

One of the major issues is the fact that obliging people to work longer is a tough sell for a socialist party. De Telegraaf writes Bos “is aware of the electoral risks” but is pleased that “at last it’s clear to the voters where the party stands”.

One argument seems to have worked more than any other, according to de Volkskrant: “If we don’t do it, the next government will”. And if that future government is right-wing, the Labour leaders insisted, the pension age would still rise but without giving workers “the soft landing” that Labour is working hard to achieve.

Karadzic boycotts trial, mocks victims
de Volkskrant reports Radovan Karadzic failed to turn up Monday at the Yugoslavia Tribunal in The Hague and that the hearing was suspended after a mere 20 minutes.

NRC Handelsblad writes “The minutes ticked away, and Karadzic didn’t show”.

The former president of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb Republic is conducting his own defence and is refusing to appear, claiming he has not been given enough time to prepare his case.

Most of the papers focus on the emotional anguish of the Bosnians who lost family members in the massacres of which Karadzic stands accused, hundreds of whom made the long journey to be present at the start of the trial.

AD leads with “Karadzic mocks his victims”, while Trouw’s headline is “Srebrenica families in tears as Karadzic fails to show”.

One demonstrator told NRC Handelsblad “he just keeps on torturing me. I came here today to close a chapter, but not content with taking my husband and my children from me, he has taken that as well. He is laughing at the whole world”.

Court to decide on Laura Dekker’s plans
Teenager Laura Dekker whose plans to sail round the world single-handedly were scuppered by the Dutch authorities presented her case in court on Monday and will expect a ruling on Friday.

The court curbed Dekker’s parents’ authority over her to make sure the record-breaking voyage didn’t go ahead and expressed concern that the young girl’s dream is the result of undue paternal influence.

Trouw reports that “Laura’s sailing expedition could soon literally become a soap opera” now that the intrepid youngster has received several offers to turn her maritime adventure into a reality TV show.

Meanwhile Dekker revealed Monday that regardless of what the courts decide, she is postponing her trip until next summer due to adverse weather conditions.

NRC-next reveals that, despite the delay, she would still set sail as the youngest person ever to undertake a global solo voyage.

The paper reports Dekker hates all the media attention that has built up around the story. “For her it’s only the sailing that matters”. But it also points out that she’s going to have to learn to cope with the media if she’s going to fulfil her round-the-world dream.

Mixed blessing for Yuri van Gelder
AD reports gymnast Yuri van Gelder, former world champion and Dutch sportsman of the year, has been sentenced a one-year suspension for his drug offence.

The gymnast fell from grace earlier this year after testing positive for cocaine.

Van Gelder seemed pleased with the decision telling AD “I’ve been given a second chance and I’m going to seize it with both hands. I want to be there at the next World Championships.”

But the paper describes the ruling as a mixed blessing for the sportsman: “on the surface the ban doesn’t seem all that severe, but it means that Yuri van Gelder now knows he can’t take part in the 2012 Olympics… his only chance of an Olympic appearance now is if he continues as a gymnast well into this thirties.”

A new rule introduced by the International Olympic Committee states a sportsman suspended for over six months is automatically disqualified from the next Olympic Games.

It’s a particularly bitter blow for the former Dutch champion who also missed out on the chance of Olympic glory in 2004 and 2008, falling foul of what AD reckons were “overly rigorous selection procedures”.

The ruling also means that the gymnast dubbed “the Lord of the Rings” will have to make his comeback without access to the gymnastic federation’s training facilities for the duration of his suspension.

Sponsor not amused by cheeky footballer’s celebration
Hot-headed footballers are renowned for getting a bit carried away when they score a goal. Wild gestures, crazy dances and multi-player hug-fests are all in the game you might say.

However, AD reports there are limits. Amateur player Mike van Gool discovered this when he celebrated a goal last weekend by dropping his shorts and charging round the pitch with his backside on display.

“It was a joke,” insisted the semi-streaker “I had a bet with the goalie of the other team that I’d flash my bum if I scored.”

At first it looked like the cheeky striker got off with nothing more than a yellow card but now it turns out that the team’s sponsors could not see the funny side and are calling for tougher sanctions.

A spokesman fumed: “We are the largest dispatch and forwarding company in the port of Rotterdam and no one in our company drops their trousers. He can run down Rotterdam high street with his buttocks to the wind for all I care, but not wearing a shirt with our name on it.”

Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica

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