Press Review Friday 25 June 2010

7th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

As yesterday’s papers predicted, the new mayor of Amsterdam is Eberhard van der Laan, a former Labour Minister for Housing and Integration. All of today’s papers reckon that he will have his work cut out for him in the Dutch capital. Never a big fan of Labour, De Telegraaf describes Mr Van der Laan as “a relatively inexperienced administrator’’ who faces “a very onerous task” in “setting a new course after years of weak governance by his predecessor”, Labour leader Job Cohen. De Volkskrant, which tends to be far more Labour-friendly, portrays Mr Van der Laan as “tough but charming” and “a pragmatist” who is “extremely well qualified for the job”.

De Volkskrant goes on to point out that Mr Van der Laan will be Amsterdam’s “eighth Labour mayor in a row”. De Telegraaf grumbles that his appointment means Labour will have mayors in the major cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht, something its editorial ironically calls “way too much of a good thing”. Formally Mr Van der Laan isn’t in office yet, but an expert consulted by Trouw informs us that at this stage “the appointment can only be blocked if there are serious doubts about the candidate’s integrity”. refers to the process of mayoral appointments as “a local cattle market”, replacing a parlour game in which political parties at national level used to share out the jobs between them. But it points out that the fun and games surrounding the Amsterdam job saw national and local interests tangled together: “stakes were high” as former mayor Job Cohen left to pursue national ambitions and the political parties decided “to bring out the big guns” to do battle to become his successor.

Controversy and leaks in Amsterdam The other big gun in the race was Annemarie Jorritsma, herself a former government minister and currently doing the honours as the high-profile mayor of Almere, a fast-growing satellite city of Amsterdam. In fact she was the preferred candidate of a confidential committee charged with the task of making a recommendation. Her candidacy should never have leaked out, and the powers that be are taking the leak so seriously that the matter has been reported to the police: a maximum penalty of 12 months behind bars awaits the culprit. But as Trouw reports “journalists are keen to protect their sources” and “such leaks are seldom if ever traced”.

The revelation is not only making waves in Amsterdam, but also back in Almere. De Telegraaf reports that the townspeople are “furious” that mayor Annemarie Jorritsma applied for the job without telling them. As one disgruntled citizen tells De Telegraaf “she swore that she hadn’t applied for the job in Amsterdam. It would appear that lying and deceiving the residents of your own town is all in the game these days.” Needless to say, the opposition parties are keen to capitalise on the kafuffle. One party spokesman complains to De Telegraaf: “It looks like we’re saddled with a mayor who is no longer prepared to give us the full 100 percent.” While another tells de Volkskrant that Ms Jorritsma’s repeated denials “have left her wide open to attack”.

Afghanistan: is McChrystal’s departure the least of Obama’s worries? Several of the papers give major coverage to US President Barack Obama’s decision to replace recalcitrant General Stanley McChrystal as the head of the US mission in Afghanistan. On its front page, NRC Handelsblad describes the new commander General David Petraeus as “politically adept” and reckons that it will be a case of “different boss, same plan” for the Americans in Afghanistan.

However, he paper makes no bones about the enormity of the task awaiting the new commander: a “gloomy reality” and “a war in which no progress is being made and confidence in a positive conclusion is shrinking”. The paper asks “who still believes in the war in Afghanistan?” and notes that General Petraeus will have to “summon all his diplomatic talents” to persuade all those involved “that it still makes sense to invest their blood, sweat, tears and dollars” in the campaign.

Trouw comments that “Mr Obama now really needs a breakthrough in a war that he has well and truly made his own”. But the paper describes it as “incomprehensible” that “in the midst of the chaos that is Afghanistan … the Pentagon and McChrystal would take such a risk”. It reckons that both parties would have been better “to keep their frustration behind closed doors” and that “McChrystal’s unalloyed criticism of his political masters” was either “a demonstration of massive naivety or of his wish to rid himself of his job in Afghanistan”.

Dutch gripes continue despite third World Cup victory Of course, all of today’s papers feature extensive coverage of the latest instalment in the Netherlands’ campaign for World Cup glory. The national football team had already qualified for the next round of the tournament after two matches, but sealed the deal last night with a 2-1 victory over Cameroon. De Telegraaf praises what it calls “a unique achievement”: having won all their qualifying matches, the Netherlands has also emerged unbeaten from the group phase of the competition.

Reason enough for joy and jubilation you might think. But the Dutch papers still have their reservations about the national team’s performance. AD’s account of the match is liberally sprinkled with terms like “unconvincing” and “laborious”. is concerned about the yellow cards dealt out to three more Dutch players and describes the play as patchy. One thing they are all positive about, however, is the return of injured Arjen Robben to the side. “Robben makes the difference” cheers, while AD reckons “Robben puts the colour back in Orange”.

Miracle killer whale warms Dutch hearts Today’s heartwarming news comes in the shape of “orphan killer whale Morgan” which “is well and truly on the mend” after being rescued from the shallows of the Wadden Sea on Tuesday by two fishermen. AD devotes two pages to what it calls “the miracle whale of the Wadden Sea” and “the first living killer whale found in these waters since 1947”. “Where did she come from?” wonders the paper “And where will she go to now?”

The unfortunate young creature became stranded after taking a wrong turn near Scotland and is now being taken care of at the Dolfinarium in Harderwijk. The head of the dolphin team describes her as a “toddler who didn’t listen to her mum” and says “she will be given a couple of months to regain her strength”. Good news for the hordes of visitors clamouring for a look at “their” Morgan before the naturalists “find an adoptive family for her and release her into the wild again”.  

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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