Press Review Tuesday 1 June 2010

1st June 2010, Comments 0 comments

The election campaign is really heating up, there's just over a week to go and politicians of all stripes are desperately trying to persuade the elusive floating voter that their party can solve the Netherlands' problems. It has been a rather negative campaign so far; most of the 'persuading' has been in the form of smears, slurs and attacks on opposing parties and predictions of doom if certain coalitions come to power after 9 June.

The Netherlands is always governed by a coalition and speculating on its makeup is the country's favourite parlour game; it generates a vast number of newspaper columns and is the number one topic on current affairs radio and television programmes. It usually remains just speculation until after the votes have been counted but as concludes, the "CDA has a dream coalition".   During a debate last week, outgoing Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende repeatedly refused to announce his party's coalition preferences, but yesterday, Mr Balkenende said, "CDA wants a cabinet with the VVD, D66 and the GreenLeft, because they are in favour of reform".   For those of you who are new to Dutch politics, VVD is the main conservative party and D66 the Dutch equivalent of Britain's Lib Dems.   De Telegraaf headlines "Balkenende chooses GreenLeft and D66," and adds; "CDA leader sees little chance of a coalition with Wilders' Freedom Party". In a bit of a dig at VVD leader Mark Rutte who has repeatedly refused to rule out a coalition with Mr Wilders' right-wing party, the populist paper tags a photo of Mr Balkenende with "open about his choices".   "CDA surprises everyone with coalition choice," writes Trouw and analyses the announcement in a single sentence: "Balkenende is fighting for his political life".   Relatives of Tripoli crash victims to get 20,000 euros AD’s banner front-page headline reads "20,000 euros per victim". The paper adds, "national memorial service for the victims will be held after all the bodies have been identified". On 12 May, an Afriqiyah Airways Airbus crashed near Tripoli, killing 103 people, 70 of them Dutch nationals.   The announcement by the airline's insurance company said the money was to help cover the victims' continuing costs such as mortgage payments and insurance but "it should not be construed as an admission of guilt. This is purely an insurance matter; the cause of the crash has not been determined and no blame has been apportioned".   The investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing although the Libyan investigative team has ruled out a terrorist attack or a technical defect.   Big rise in number of young unemployed males De Volkskrant reports that the number of people claiming unemployment benefits is rising rapidly. According to Statistics Netherlands' CBS latest report - released on Monday - 290,000 people were claiming unemployment at the end of March, an increase of 10,000 since the end of December.

The paper says the CBS figures reveal that the sharpest rise has been among young men under the age of 28; during the first three months of this year, the number of young unemployed males increased by 15 percent.

  However, Trouw reports that an independent investigation by the FNV trade union says many young people do not apply for benefits and don't even know that they are eligible. The Protestant paper says many young people are not registered as unemployed and therefore do not appear in the CBS statistics.   Dutch pro football clubs in dire financial straits AD reports “14 of the Netherlands' 37 professional football clubs are in the financial danger zone". The Vermeend Commission, charged with investigating the financial health of Dutch football clubs, reported yesterday that Dutch clubs "must work really hard to get their finances in order," adding, "14 have serious financial problems and unless something is done, that number will increase".   Under the headline "football clubs are aware that the situation is serious," De Telegraaf says "just six clubs have their finances in order". In a very small article on the same page, the populist paper writes that Premier League club Willem II has been bailed out by the Tilburg Council to the tune of 1.5 million euros.   One wonders if the Tilburg Council would be quite so generous with a theatre company or an orchestra that was losing money hand over fist.   ProRail puts smokers on the spot Smokers have been hounded out of bars, restaurants and trains across Europe and the Netherlands is no different, except for the fact that smokers are still allowed to smoke on the platform while waiting - for what sometimes seems like an eternity - for a train. However, until now smokers were confined to a small area around a smoking pole - a thin metal pipe with a tiny ashtray in the middle.   AD writes that the device was not the ideal solution and a spokesperson for ProRail, the company that maintains the railway infrastructure, tells the paper, "we have had so many complaints about the smoking poles, it's not clear where smoking is permitted and the thing was always smoking because people stuffed rubbish and lit cigarettes in it. That's why we are testing the smoking circle". The company's new solution for the smoking problem is a 1x1-metre ashtray in the ground surrounded by a large yellow circle.   "Is this the new place to be for the dedicated smoker?" asks the paper. Several smokers interviewed at Amersfoort Station believe it will help make it clear where smoking is permitted, although one says, "we look like a bunch of crazy goats standing here in the yellow smoking circle".


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