Press Review Wednesday 21 July 2010

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The front pages of this morning's papers should have been edged in black as they all announce the death of the prospective ‘Purple-plus’ coalition. The negotiations failed late yesterday afternoon after the four parties involved failed to agree on what needs to be done to tackle the economic crisis.

The tone in the papers is funereal, but it is not clear who is going to be buried. Will the death of Purple-plus lead to the resurrection of Geert Wilders' hopes of governing?

Coalition negotiations fail "Back to square one," headlines de Volkskrant at the start of several pages of coverage of the failure of the coalition talks. The left-wing paper says tensions around the negotiating table started rising on Monday after free-market liberal VVD leader Mark Rutte "demanded an agreement on cuts amounting to 18 billion euros but refused to consider tax increases, cutting mortgage tax relief or the introduction of a road pricing scheme".   The paper says the talks failed because these were the "three issues that the other parties around the negotiating table - Labour, GreenLeft and D66 - were anxious to reform".   "All by himself; the election winner is all alone," writes Trouw on its front page and then takes another sly dig at Mr Rutte with its subheading: "VVD fails to convert election victory into a real success".   AD’s headline perhaps reflects the national mood the best when it asks "What next?" De Telegraaf and De Pers supply the answer: "It's up to the queen now," say both papers.   What next for the Netherlands? The papers all speculate on Mark Rutte's next move and they all agree that it's going to be tricky. AD writes that Mr Rutte wants a ‘grand coalition’ with Labour and the Christian Democrats but it immediately discounts that option because "Labour leader Job Cohen has ruled out that combination unless the GreenLeft and D66 come on board as well".   The spectre of the far-right PVV hovers in all the papers, and many speculate on whether or not Geert Wilders could be induced to take a seat at the negotiating table. As Trouw reports, Mark Rutte has made his preference very clear "I have asked Geert Wilders to join the talks seven times now, as far as I'm concerned, he can still say yes".   AD reports that the anti-Islam politician was extremely happy when the talks failed: "I'd like to congratulate the country," a delighted Geert Wilders told journalists, adding, "Thankfully we’ve been spared the nightmare of Purple-plus".   Glorious summer weather but not all are happy Some people in the Netherlands have been enjoying the glorious hot weather over the last few weeks but others are not quite so enthused; Trouw reports that the FNV's 'too hot' hotline, which opened on 30 June, has been inundated with complaints from workers who say that it's too hot at work.   The union says it has had almost 600 complaints so far, including reports from 11 workers who had to be hospitalised due to overheated working conditions. According to the FNV, "heat stress is a very serious problem".   The heat finds its way into AD as well: "drinking too much water can be dangerous," writes the paper. It appears that some people drink so much water in an attempt to cool down that they end up in the emergency room with water poisoning symptoms. A doctor at Maastricht's Academic Medical Centre tells the paper "people forget to take salt with all that water".   Record number drop out of four-day marches Nijmegen's famous four-day walking event got under way yesterday but the heat knocked a record number of people out on the very first day. AD has a photo of a sweaty walker taking advantage of a garden hose set up by a home owner along the route; the relief visibly spatters off the man's face.   AD writes that 1,154 people failed to finish the march despite the fact that the organisers had moved the start up by an hour and set up extra water stations along the route. Dozens and dozens of people reported to the Red Cross tent after crossing the finishing line and four people were hospitalised.   City dwellers meaner than country folk De Volkskrant reports that an investigation by a Dutch charity has revealed that people who live in cities give less money to door-to-door collectors than people who live in villages. The Jantje Beton Foundation analysed its annual collection and discovered that the 21 largest cities donated just 21.5 percent of the total amount raised.   The organisation says two-thirds of households in small towns and villages give to door-to-door fundraisers while just one-third of city households do the same. A spokesperson for the foundation tells the paper "revenues have been falling since 2007".   A spokesperson for the Fund-Raising Organisations’ National Committee CBF tells the paper that Jantje Beton isn't the only organisation that collects less money in cities: "If you look at the top 50 donation locations, you'll only see villages. In 2008, the most generous place was Urk a small fishing village. ed., which gave an average of 52 euros and 64 cents per household. Amsterdam averaged just 59 cents per household".   The CBF says one reason for the difference is that it is much more difficult to go door-to-door collecting in high-rise flats and "people in villages are far more inclined to open the door than people who live in cities".


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