RNW Press Review – Tuesday 1 April 2008
A roundup of today’s press from Radio NetherlandsA firm hand
All of today's papers carry the news that the conservative VVD party has a new chairman, in the shape of Ivo Opstelten, currently Mayor of Rotterdam. AD describes him as "an experienced manager who wants to bring stability back to the party with a firm hand".
And stability is something the VVD could certainly do with. The previous party chairman stepped down after a high profile spat led to the departure of one of the party's most popular members, former Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk.
The new chairman certainly appears to be full of promises and optimism.
Opstelten says he wants to "forge a link between the members and the head of the party" and has vowed to launch "a permanent campaign" to revive the party's fortunes.
He wants the VVD to win at least 35 seats at the next election. Indeed de Volkskrant quotes him as saying "If I don't achieve that then I won't have done enough and I'll leave".
The party is currently at a low ebb of 21 seats and the latest opinion polls see them languishing even further behind their main rivals. "I look at the polls at the moment with fear and trepidation" the new chairman admits.
A lot to lose
Today's NRC Handelsblad tells us that 16 of the world's biggest companies have their headquarters in the Netherlands, creating 150,000 jobs and contributing around 13 billion to the Gross Domestic Product.
So there's good reason for the Dutch to be worried by the paper's headline "Departure of corporate HQs could be imminent". "The Netherlands has a strong position, but also has a lot to lose", say the experts. What's going wrong and what can the Dutch do about it?
According to a report commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, takeovers are a big threat: "the departure of the headquarters of companies like ABN Amro ... could discourage multinationals from basing themselves here". And if HQs go, sales, research and development departments often follow.
So that's the problem. What about the solution? The experts say there's not much to be done in the major multinational department. After all "you can't stop Dutch companies being taken over". What they can do is to attract more companies from the upcoming Asian economies: "Why not set up a good Chinese school in Amsterdam?" They also suggest setting up clusters of companies with similar areas of expertise.
One thing they agree on is that tax breaks alone are not enough: "Companies that come for the money will leave for the money just as easily". It's time to get serious, say the experts. "We have never stuck to a policy for long and we've never made hard choices ... that's something we have to do now."
Trouw reports on the long journey being made by six people with a disability along the Netherlands' first long-distance walking path especially designed for the disabled.
Without much regard for political correctness, the paper describes it as "invalid proof".
Dubbed "The Royal Route", the path takes walkers and wheelchair travellers in 21 stages from Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, past Soestdijk Palace in Baarn and finishes at Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn. The first walkers will reach their destination on Friday.
Queen Beatrix's sister, Princess Margriet, will be there to greet them at the end of their 170-kilometre route.
"Walking should be accessible to everyone" says the man behind the project. "People with a disability still have to encounter all kinds of obstacles such as curbs, posts and muddy paths."
The walkers along the Royal Route have been experiencing obstacles of a different kind: "We keep falling behind schedule because every local authority along the way insists on giving us an official welcome", laughs one intrepid trekker.
De Volkskrant reports that Geert Wilders has been declared "an undesirable alien" by Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which means "he will be arrested as soon as he sets foot on Indonesian soil".
The paper also describes a demonstration outside the Dutch embassy in Jakarta on Monday with around 50 activists brandishing banners with slogans such as "Kill Geert Wilders" and "Holland go to hell".
However, the paper goes on to reassure it readers that "the demonstration was nothing compared to the mass outcry that greeted the Danish cartoons and even paled into insignificance beside Monday's demonstration by Indonesian rail workers."
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]