Dutch news in brief, Wednesday 13 May 2009

13th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Small bars celebrate victory over smoking ban
Victory Café celebrated Wednesday after a court in the southern city of Den Bosch ruled that a smoking ban introduced almost a year ago did not apply to small bars and pubs without staff.

AD prints a photo of the punters celebrating with a cigar.

Tonny van Haperen and his wife left the court as heroes, but the pub owner said: “We may have won, but it’s not over yet. We are going through to the third round.”

Nrc.next asks what consequences the ruling will have for other small owner-run bars in the country.

According to the paper it is too early to say whether the general ban will survive, although the courts can expect to see hundreds of claims from small bars up and down the country.

Meanwhile the Lower House has called for an emergency debate because, although the ban was introduced under the auspices of providing a smoke-free environment for employees, it was actually meant to apply to all catering establishments.

Toppers’ good at publicity
While there are serious doubts about whether the Dutch entry – a trio of Dutch artists called the Toppers – to the Eurovision Song Contest will make it to the final, there is no doubting the band’s skills in attracting publicity.

AD reports public service broadcaster NOS has decided it will withdraw the Dutch entry and may take the whole competition off-air if the authorities use force to prevent a gay rights protest taking place in Moscow.

The decision follows a message from the Culture Minister Ronald Plasterk in support of a threat by one of the singers, Gordon, to withdraw from the final.

Gordon will be wearing a Russian gay movement badge on his glittery costume during Thursday’s performance of Shine. He also said he will join the demo if they don’t make it to the final.
Meanwhile, the Toppers, who know a good photo opportunity when they see it, have visited a home for handicapped children in the Russian capital – apparently unshaken by the 120 kilometre per hour police escort on the wrong side of a six-lane motorway.

'Cordon sanitaire' against Freedom Party disputed
Many of the papers have reacted to Tuesday’s news that the Dutch Labour Party, Christian Union, SP and Green Left would not consider entering a cabinet with the Geert Wilders’ right-wing Freedom Party.

Trouw reports Labour leader Wouter Bos was surprised by the use of the term ‘cordon sanitaire’ as he had only said it was ‘unthinkable’ that the two parties would sit in the same coalition government, but he is quite prepared to work with the controversial anti-Islam parties in other ways.

The term 'cordon sanitaire' is emotionally charged, as it reminds voters of how the establishment reacted to right wing politician Janmaat in the 1980s and 1990s and the rise of the late Pim Fortuyn and his LPF party in 2002.

NRC Handelsblad and de Volkskrant conclude the matter arise because of the upcoming elections where democrat party D66 has distanced itself from the controversial Freedom party. So when asked, it was difficult for other parties not to follow suit.

The Christian Democrats, who have refused to rule out governing with any party, has lost support.  

In its analysis, NRC Handelsblad points out Wilders’ party thrives on its isolation. In reality it often works together with other parties, but only away from the limelight.

When left-wing parties said they would not join the Freedom Party in a coalition, they were playing into Wilders’ hands. And he was ready with his soundbite: “There is a left-wing cordon sanitaire against the Freedom Party.”
Membership for coffeeshops in Limburg
Nrc.next reports a solution presented Tuesday by mayors in Limburg on how to alleviate the problem of drug tourism by introducing special passes for customers.

Under the new measures, people who want to buy cannabis will have to apply to be a member with a coffeeshop in Limburg. It is hoped the measure, which will be introduced in the province on 1 January 2009, will put an end to the stream of people who cross the border from Germany or Belgium to buy their dope.

Limburg mayors also called for the production of cannabis to be legally regulated, but Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin opposed the idea: “We do not want to create a legalised cannabis growing sector.”

Meanwhile, the plan appears to be supported by other mayors, legal experts and ministers although no extra funds will be made available to police it. Home Office Minister Guusje ter Horst said priority would be given to soft drugs cases.

Maastrict’s coffeeshops, where soft drugs can be bought legally in the Netherlands are not looking forward to losing a third of their turnover when the new system is introduced.

The European Court of Human Rights is looking at the legality of only allowing Dutch residents to become coffeeshop club members.

Terschelling island residents feel framed
Residents on the island of Terschelling off the northern Dutch coast feel like they have been framed.

According to Trouw, a publicity stunt by magazine and TV channel National Geographic – which has placed 12 huge yellow frames at various beauty spots on the island – has gone down the wrong way with locals.

The project 'The Month of the Earth' will actually last two years instead of a month as the project name suggested.

The island’s marketing and promotion foundation supports the initiative, which is meant to get people to take another look at nature. Dutch nature conservation organisation Stadsbosbeheer gave permission for the frames to be placed on its land.

In reaction to what a local councillor describes as the commercialisation of the island’s nature, one local resident has placed a large wooden McDonald’s logo on a dune near the island’s main town West Terschelling.

But a spokesperson for National Geographic denies the project is a commercial venture. “We are a non-profit organisation. Our only aim is to involve people in nature. The money we make is put into making documentaries.”
Radio Netherlands / Nicola Chadwick / Expatica

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