Dutch news in brief, Monday 8 September 2008

8th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

8 September 2008

Another soldier dies in Afghanistan
All today's papers report that another soldier has died in Afghanistan. The 17th Dutch soldier to be killed since the NATO mission began in 2006 died after his patrol vehicle hit a roadside bomb. Five other soldiers were injured, one of whom remains in a serious condition.

De Telegraaf tells us the 21-year-old soldier came from a village in the east of the Netherlands near the German border and will be missed. "Rekken is a small community where everybody knows each other," says the local mayor.

Trouw says the Taliban rebels make use of roadside bombs because they cannot hope to win during direct clashes with NATO troops.

According to the paper, commander-in-chief of the Dutch armed forces, General Peter van Uym, says the last months have seen little fighting in Uruzgan where the Dutch troops are stationed. This has meant that there has been "room for progress". General van Uym was there last week, and says he "was able to see with his own eyes the extent of that progress".

Political opinion poll
De Volkskrant covers the latest opinion poll which indicates that Dutch Labour Party support is at an all-time low. If an election were held now, Labour would win only 15 seats, down from 33. Their ruling coalition partners, the Christian Democrats, would see the number of their MPs fall from 41 to 33. On the other hand, right-wing firebrand Rita Verdonk's new Proud of the Netherlands party would get 18 seats in what would be its first election.

The paper staged a debate at the weekend between Dutch opinion poll organisers. The pollsters agreed that the popularity of Verdonk's party, which has not yet actually achieved anything politically, was due to voter dissatisfaction.

There was a consensus that the gap between the voter and the political establishment is too wide for it to be easily closed.

"Pim Fortuyn was just the beginning. It'll get much more difficult still," says one pollster, referring to the maverick politician who is credited with turning the Dutch political scene on its head before being assassinated in 2002.

New book season
NRC Handelsblad covers Amsterdam's Manuscripta event which is marking the launch of the new book season.

Top author Harry Mulisch is slightly worried by a stunt organised by the wonderfully titled Collective Propaganda for the Dutch Book group. They are giving copies of one his books away free. "Dutch people are bound to think: If it's free, it can't be very good," he argues.

In a related piece, the paper informs us that the NS Dutch Book Public's Prize will be decided by voting via the Internet.

However, a jury of 300 readers will have the last word. This is in case Internet pranksters decide to sabotage the voting. "We want to stop Jip and Janneke (a famous Dutch children's book) from winning. We want to keep it serious," says an organiser.

Angelic Hell Angels
Finally, the AD features a picture of a member of the Amsterdam Hells Angels, his head shaven and his leather shirt revealing the tattoos which cover his arms. However, he is not sitting on a Harley-Davidson but on the ground, and his club insignia are being admired by two small children who are climbing all over him.

For years, the Hells Angels have been repeatedly involved in criminal investigations, including those surrounding the murders of various members of the club.

However, on Saturday it was open house at the Angels' site in Amsterdam. One visitor, with his 5-year-old daughter says: "The club's image is always black, but the atmosphere here is quite different. It's relaxed and fun. They almost always come out of the news looking bad. This charm offensive shows a different side to them".

[Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilcox / Expatica]

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