Press Review Tuesday 5 July 2010

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It's de Volkskrant that brings us the most alarming World Cup news of the day: "The vuvuzela has invaded the family of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima".

All of today's papers feature snaps of the royal couple with their three young daughters Amalia, Alexia and Ariane, taken during an official press photo shoot at their home before they head off on their summer holidays.

Dutch team get the royal blessing The photos depict the royals the way the Dutch like to see them: playful, relaxed and acting just like any other Dutch family. And in these times of World Cup fever that means a lawn littered with footballs and kids tooting on a bright orange vuvuzela.

The royal couple will be in Cape Town this evening to cheer the national team on against Uruguay. And as Trouw reports, they are even prepared to interrupt their family holiday to be at Sunday’s final ... assuming the Dutch make it that far, of course.

Needless to say the papers leave no cliché unturned in their determination to spur the Men in Orange to greater heights. "Time to roll up our sleeves!" exclaims De Telegraaf, next to a full-page and frankly terrifying photo of a grimacing Dirk Kuijt, no doubt intended to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition, which de Volkskrant warns are "a team with flair and cojones". "It's the day of truth!" thunders AD, while free-sheet De Pers notes "there's only 180 minutes between us and the World Cup ... it's time to write history".

But amid all the macho posturing, the prize for World Cup quote of the day goes to six-year-old Princess Amalia. When asked by her dad who was going to win this evening, she charged past him with her hands in the air shouting "Meeeeeeeee!" Now that's the spirit that just might see the Dutch lifting the trophy on Sunday!

Dutch coalition talks: will the Netherlands turn purple? Two colours are dominating the Dutch news at present: orange and purple. The former stands for the nation's footballing hopes while the latter represents its latest hope of getting a new government. Purple Plus is the nickname given to the four-way coalition between election winners the free-market liberal VVD and three left-of-centre parties, most notably Labour.

After two rounds of exploratory talks under two different mediators, it’s now time for negotiations to start in earnest – this time under two mediators known in Dutch as informateurs, one from the VVD and the other from Labour.

VVD leader Mark Rutte has made no secret of his reluctance to enter into such a left-of-centre pact, so just how serious is this latest phase of negotiations? Trouw’s cartoonist certainly has her doubts, showing Mr Rutte preparing for talks by donning a purple clown’s nose.

In De Telegraaf, grand old man of the VVD Hans Wiegel comes out of the woodwork to warn the party that it’s taking “a very big risk” by entertaining the left while only eight percent of its voters back such a coalition.

AD isn’t so sure about Mr Rutte’s position either. It describes him as “balancing on a slack tightrope” and notes that he only agreed to this round of talks once Labour agreed to keep all other options open, thus leaving the door ajar for a centre-right cabinet in which the VVD would team up with Labour and the Christian Democrats – an option that appeals to the VVD but not to Labour. However things turn out, AD just wants them to get a move on: “this country needs a government … and fast!”

Polish presidential vote: a victory for reason? Today’s Dutch papers also look eastwards and assess the results of the Polish presidential elections, in which pro-EU candidate Bronislaw Komorowski won the narrowest of victories over nationalist Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Trouw calls it “a victory without a hint of lustre”, pointing out that the newly elected president “lost a big majority in the polls” as “Kaczynski set the election agenda” by wrapping himself in the national flag and asking “who is the true patriot?”

NRC Handelsblad describes it as a strange election in which “the losers are cheering, while the winners look like they’ve lost” and reckons “the reformers will have a tough time of it”. It notes that Mr Kaczynski was “smiling from ear to ear” at his “unlikely comeback” after the tragic death of his twin brother and former president in a plane crash.

The paper is happy that Poland’s voters “were led more by rational considerations than by sentimental ones”. But it also warns that Mr Komorowski’s victory is “only a breathing space” and that – with parliamentary elections next year and unpopular crisis measures ahead – Mr Kaczynski will not fail to capitalise on the situation from the opposition benches.

Heath fires destroy cherished Dutch landscape Trouw features a striking photograph of an apocalyptic scene: a man stands next to the blasted remains of a tree amid a barren landscape of smouldering ash. It’s hard to believe that the picture was taken yesterday in the Netherlands. More specifically on the Strabrechtse heath not far from the southern city of Eindhoven, where “around 150 hectares of natural beauty went up in flames in recent days”.

The man next to the burnt-out tree is forest ranger Jaap Smits who laments “This was the most beautiful spot, right here. This is where I came to find peace. There were juniper bushes here that were over 100 years old. That’s what gets to me the most.”

The police are still investigating the cause of the fire, which has now finally been extinguished. But as the paper reports, the damage caused to local wildlife is already apparent. Long-eared owls and nightjars have lost their nests and the fragile balance of plant life on the heath may well have been disrupted forever. Ranger Smits sighs “This is a cultural landscape. We used to have plenty of it, but now there’s so little left. We really have to cherish it.”

Love-struck customer loses heart to hooker AD always has a keen eye for the human interest story. Today it's a touching tale of unrequited love in the shape of a 39-year-old man from Friesland who had to be dragged out of the local brothel by police after declaring his undying passion for the lady of his dreams.

"He was head over heels in love," said a police spokesman. "It was a difficult arrest. He said he never wanted to leave her side." The arresting officers said the man was not under the influence of drink or drugs.

While the police were taken aback and declared "we've never encountered anything like this before", the scene was nothing new for former prostitute Metje Blaak, now head of a group that represents sex workers' interests.

"I’ve heard countless stories of love-struck customers … When I retired 25 years ago, I regularly caught former clients in the bushes next to my house. It’s understandable. After all those years, they can't help feeling they've been just a little bit married to you."


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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