Press Review Tuesday 11 May 2010

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Financial news dominates the Dutch press today. The papers all reflect on the salvation of the euro and a damning report on the causes of the credit crunch. They also bid farewell to British PM Gordon Brown and prominent politician Hans Dijkstal, and pay tribute to a dedicated football fan.

An illustration in sums up the story at a single glance: a euro coin plummets from a darkened sky into a modest safety net in the form of a European flag. "The euro has been saved" announces the headline in sister paper NRC Handelsblad, adding hastily "for now at least". Trouw seems more upbeat, leading with the headline "Euphoric reaction to support package" but even it wonders "will everyone still be as calm once this dose of morphine has worn off?"   NRC Handelsblad looks at the amount involved - a whopping 750 billion euros - and explains "No one knows how much is needed to prevent the Greek crisis from becoming a credit crisis version 2.0. They needed an amount that was so overwhelming that no one could doubt the vast credit worthiness of the eurozone's members." With stock markets around the globe perking up in response to the announcement, the rescue seems to have worked.   But the paper issues a stern warning about what it calls the "moral hazard" involved. "One of the problems of the credit crisis was that the banks knew they were so big that no one would let them collapse. They could indulge in unlimited misconduct knowing they would be saved no matter what. The same is now true of Greece ..."   Dutch credit crunch report: who's to blame? De Telegraaf focuses on financial news closer to home: a damning Dutch report on the causes of the credit crunch, which was published yesterday. In response, a majority of Dutch MPs are now demanding a full parliamentary inquiry in which all those summoned will have to testify under oath. "The political parties believe that no stone should be left unturned ... and they now want to bring out the most powerful investigative weapon in their armoury."   All the papers agree that the report's conclusions cannot be taken lightly. As Trouw puts it "The commission has spared no one ... It looks like there wasn't a single institution which did the right thing in the lead-up to the credit crisis."   While the commission takes pains not to point the finger at any one main culprit, both AD and de Volkskrant observe that the report is especially bad news for the president of the Netherlands' Central Bank Nout Wellink and Labour's former finance minister Wouter Bos. Mr Bos has already bowed out of the public arena, and if De Telegraaf has its way, Mr Wellink will soon follow. In its editorial, the paper insists "The Central Bank was too passive. It now needs to become a proper watchdog. And such a cultural shift calls for another president."   Gordon Brown's farewell: checkmate for Labour? The Dutch dailies are also fascinated by what Trouw refers to as "the chess game for governmental power in the UK". With the two main parties - Labour and the Conservatives - both needing a coalition to form a majority government and the Liberal Democrats in talks with both, much still hangs in the balance. De Volkskrant reports "Gordon Brown upped the tension in British politics yesterday by announcing his departure as Labour leader" and notes that "he has sacrificed himself ... in an ultimate attempt to keep the Conservatives out of power". The Lib Dems had made it clear they couldn't back Labour under Mr Brown's leadership. portrays Mr Brown as a tragi-comic figure. Under the headline "From Josef Stalin to Mr Bean" the paper reflects that the "powerful and driven chancellor of the exchequer became a bumbling prime minister. ... Partly due to bad luck and partly due to his own unfortunate decisions, he lost the respect of the people soon after taking office."   With the big parties "fishing for his good favours", as De Telegraaf puts it, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg seems to be in an enviable position. But the paper also emphasises that the party is in something of a no-win situation. Since the Conservatives were the only main party to win seats at the election, if the Lib Dems side with Labour, they can be accused of forming "a government of losers, which will be hard to justify to the electorate". But traditional anti-Tory sentiments within the party could easily scupper a coalition with the Conservatives. The paper notes with relish that "feverish negotiations continue"...   Papers pay tribute to politician Dijkstal All of today's papers pay tribute to Hans Dijkstal, a former leader of the conservative VVD party, who also became interior minister and deputy prime minister in the 1990s. He died on Sunday at the age of 67 after a long battle with cancer. Trouw and de Volkskrant feature statesman-like portraits of Hans Dijkstal, while shows a different side of the politician: laughing out loud, sporting a cowboy hat and brandishing a saxophone. Known for his sense of humour, he was also a fervent jazz lover who blew a mean sax.   His distinguished career took in a number of key moments in Dutch politics. According to de Volkskrant he was part of "a political landslide" as a prominent member of the first ever Dutch coalition government not to include a party with religious roots. His career was inextricably linked with that of murdered politician Pim Fortuyn and the rise of a strong populist sentiment in Dutch politics. While the flamboyant Fortuyn embodied this new movement, de Volkskrant recalls that Dijkstal "resisted the zeitgeist of one-liners, hypes, spin and polarisation" and went from potential PM to a symbol of old-fashioned arrogance within a matter of months.   Under the headline "A cheerful improviser who had his share of suffering", the paper also reveals that Hans Dijkstal's life was marked by personal tragedy, most notably the deaths of two of his children. It quotes him as saying "Resilience is important. Humour puts things in perspective. There's a big risk that suffering will get the better of you. The important thing is not to let that happen."     Football fan beats ban with “sky box” stunt AD reports on a football fanatic who seems to have taken Hans Dijkstal's philosophy well and truly to heart. Banned from going to see his local team play for two matches after running onto the pitch, Graat Hindriks decided to take matters into his own hands. He hired a crane with a platform, parked it just outside the grounds, and watched the match suspended 20 metres above the stand in his very own sky box.    Fortunately, the club's chairman was able to see the funny side of the fan's act of defiance. "It was a comical stunt, I have to admit. And now his ban is over, he's welcome to come and watch again." Alas, the fan's spirited show of support failed to spur his team on to victory: all he got from his vantage point was a bird's eye view of a 2-0 defeat.


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