Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 4 November 2008
Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.4 November 2008
US election fever hits Netherlands
With the climax to the battle for the White House just hours away, today's Dutch newspapers are in the grip of US election fever.
"What a show!" exclaims de Volkskrant, as it documents every step of the election soap from the downfall of Hillary Clinton to the rise of Sarah Palin. "Sure, it's a good show" concludes the paper, "but more importantly the excitement is about the realisation that major change seems to be on the way."
Trouw's cartoonist agrees, depicting the United States as a bucking bronco throwing off a little cowboy in a Bush T-shirt. But one of the paper's columnists warns: "Change sounds good, but it's not what we're after. When people call for change, they really mean 'improvement'. We're conservative by nature."
Yet such considerations don't seem to be dampening Dutch optimism about a victory for Barack Obama. De Telegraaf's editorial may grumble about "Obama being praised to high heaven as a left-wing apostle who is going to solve every single problem", but the majority of its readers are convinced that the Democrat would be better for Europe.
"No less than 59 percent think Obama can improve the United States' standing in the world, compared to a meagre 14 percent for McCain."
De Volkskrant informs us that "leadership qualities depend on time, place and circumstances". It speaks to a specialist at Groningen University who reckons today's voter is looking for "a transformational leader" with "vision, charisma and the power to persuade". And guess what? "Barack Obama is the perfect example."
AD is in no doubt who America should vote for: "The hope that Obama offers gives real perspective ... America needs a president with enough vision and energy for at least the next eight years. And in that case there's only one choice worth believing in: Obama."
The paper then brings us back down to earth with the headline "President and pigs share the same ballot paper", revealing that voters in California aren't just electing a president today but also voting on how much space a pregnant pig should have in its sty.
Dutch Socialist Party and Christian SGP join forces
AD reports on the unlikely alliance between the Dutch Socialist Party and the hardline Christian SGP who have come together in defence of Sunday as a day of rest.
Retailers are coming up with all sorts of cunning ploys to make sure that they can open every Sunday instead of just the 12 designated days of Sunday shopping a year. "The law says that's only allowed in areas of tourism, and suddenly, hey presto, every field in the country is being transformed into an attraction of some kind."
The Socialists and Christians alike think it's a scandal though, needless to say, they are motivated by different concerns.
The SGP is out to protect the Sabbath as "a day of rest and contemplation", while the Socialist Party is worried about what will happen to small shops if they are forced to open every Sunday: "They won't be able to keep it up in the long term and we'll end up with the same boring old chain stores everywhere."
Freedom Party wants book withdrawn
Trouw reports that the right-wing Freedom Party led by populist Geert Wilders is up in arms about a schoolbook which mentions Wilders' controversial anti-Islam film Fitna in the same breath as Hilter's Mein Kampf.
The book, distributed to all Dutch schools as part of the Day of Respect project on 13 November, says both works "are based on one-sided ideas ... as opposed to books, museums and plays which do show respect for people whose thinking, beliefs and appearance are different."
The party wants the book withdrawn but the Day of Respect's organisers say they'll not, pointing out that they haven't received a single complaint from a school.
They also dispute the claim that their book lumps Fitna and Mein Kampf together in the same category. However, they do admit they might have chosen their words more carefully.
Message in a bottle
De Telegraaf reports on an unusual and moving find made by a beachcomber on the island of Texel.
"A transparent beaker containing some photographs caught my eye," recounts Maarten Brugge. "When I opened it, I found a letter and some newspaper clippings.
The letter told the life story of John Lea and was accompanied by a smaller container which held some of his ashes. With this 'message in a bottle' John's family wanted to honour his dying wish of making a long journey."
Maarten has decided to help John on his way and has asked a local shipper to throw the container back into the waters of the North Sea when he sets sail next week. The young islander is also trying to track down John Lea's family. "I want to send them some photographs of Texel, so they know where John's final journey has taken him."
[Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica]