Press Review Friday 18 June 2010

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The coalition talks turn left, but it may be FIFA who rules. Youth employment picks up, which is good news for school leavers as many of them hang out the flag. But the jury is still out on whether mixed schools are a good or a bad thing.

The coalition talks between the pro-business liberal VVD, the anti-Islam Freedom Party and the Christian Democrats have failed before they even got started. All the papers report that mediator Uri Rosenthal has informed Queen Beatrix that this combination seems impossible after Christian Democrat interim leader Maxime Verhagen refused several times to join the negotiations, until the other two parties had reached a general agreement on a number of issues.

Interviewed outside the government buildings, Geert Wilders gives the press his usual tirade of superlatives to voice his discontent. De Volkskrant quotes the Freedom Party leader, who describes Mr Verhagen’s behaviour as scandalous: “The Christian Democrats have just pulled out the plug.” A phrase that usually refers to a party after a cabinet has collapsed. Remarkably, he is wearing a purple tie, which in the Netherlands is the colour attributed to a cabinet without the Christian Democrats.

Mr Rosenthal is meeting the other party faction leaders today to hear their preferences. Trouw informs its readership that Labour Party leader Mr Cohen prefers the “purple plus” combination which includes the VVD, Labour Party, the democrat party D66 and the Green Left. While VVD leader Mark Rutte would prefer not to go quite so far to the left and wants a “national cabinet”, which includes his party with the Christian Democrats and the Labour Party. If he wants to meet his self-imposed deadline of 1 July, he’d better get his skates on.

Are ethnic divisions in schools good or bad? According to Trouw, the cities of Nijmegen and Deventer have finally solved the riddle of how to combat segregation in schools. Many city councils have tried and failed in the past to prevent popular schools becoming all white, while less popular schools are almost exclusively populated by children with a foreign background. Hurray, three cheers for Nijmegen and Deventer!

Apparently it is fairly easy, just raise the age parents can put their offspring’s name down for schools to three years old. This stops native Dutch parents applying for a place at popular schools at birth, while foreign parents, who take longer to cotton on to this practice, have a fair chance of getting their little ‘uns into the same school. In the end, the local council has the final decision when schools are oversubscribed. As a result, schools are more mixed and more children go to schools in their own neighbourhood.

However, the same paper reports on international research which shows that children do better when they are taught with children with the same ethnic background. Darn! So after all that effort, it seems they would be better off segregated. Well no, of course not, because there are other things that are more important than getting good marks. Learning to live in a multicultural society for instance. The conclusion of Trouw’s expert is, that real friendships between cultures can only grow when the different groups “enjoy the same status”. So obviously it is racism we have to get rid of.

FIFA rules! Or does it? After all the fuss about the arrest of beer babes in orange dresses, the papers have turned their attention to the Dutch-Belgian bid for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. According to AD, the Dutch government has already promised FIFA free play to profit as much as it can through marketing, events and television rights.

The bid, which was submitted in April, gives eight Government Guarantees which include the Dutch police and customs helping FIFA to protect its interests. Caretaker Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen called this week’s arrests of the beer babes “out of proportion”, but according to FIFA rules, the Dutch government would have to provide enough police to watch out for similar commercial offences.

Businesses near the stadiums would not even be able to sell their own food as FIFA has sole rights to any sales in and around the event. What’s more, the international football organisation does not have to pay any tax on its sales and its sponsors pay less tax. That means the Dutch treasury would miss out on 300 million euros.

De Telegraaf disagrees, the paper says FIFA would not be given the same far-reaching powers if the World Cup came to the Netherlands and Belgium. The mass circulation paper quotes caretaker Sports Minister Ab Klink, “We will not give up our autonomy, nor will we create new offences.” He says the FIFA has not yet made any such demands and if it does they will not be granted.

Good news for school leavers Finally there is a bit of good news in the papers. According to, world trade is growing in the US, China and the United States and as a result unemployment in the Netherlands is dropping.

The signs are apparently all around us. Adverts for situations vacant are popping up all over the place. School leavers will be pleased to hear that it is mainly the long-suffering youth employment that is picking up. This is because this group is more likely to work as flexible temporary staff. Companies, hard hit by the economic crisis, are still a bit reluctant to take people on permanently, but production in industry is increasing. So the old adage of ‘last in, first out’ has now changed to ‘first out, first in’. It was the low-skilled technical jobs that went first, now they are coming back first. Meanwhile unemployment among the over-45s has hardly changed.

The fall in unemployment in the Netherlands is not reflected by other European countries. This is because the Netherlands’ strong export economy is sensitive to developments elsewhere in the world. But there is of course a downside, as this also makes the Netherlands vulnerable: “If there is a draught in Spain and Greece, then the wind blows here,” explains one expert.

More good news for school leavers The exam results are out and in many cases so are the flags. AD prints a picture of 15-year-old Jana Huisman holding a Dutch flag with her old school bag attached to the top of the flagpole. A familiar sight to anyone walking around Dutch streets this time of year.

Brainy Jana is so clever she skipped three years of education making her this year’s youngest grammar school graduate. The oldest person to pass was 54-year-old Rosali Salera, proving it is never too late to get a good education.  

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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