What´s New(s)? La revue de presse anglophone – Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen
Thank you for listening to this autumn’s first What’s New(s)! After a short summer break, we’re back with new comments and fresh phrases that made the headlines across Europe this week.
To start with: How did the European press interpret the mysterious or expected outperformance of United Russia; and how did they report on the volcanic eruption in La Palma - the first in 50 years?
You'll find the script below:
Good morning Nadine, well perhaps no wonder that the European press was not surprised when Putin’s United Russia won what POLITICO described as “designed” elections. However, this vote is actually a “rare bellwether of Russia’s political reality”, argued the newspaper’s reporter Eva Hartog, since the long road to victory suggests that things are not well in Putin’s “created paradise.” By maintaining a constitutional majority in Russia’s parliament, United Russia is “mysteriously” outperforming its “sluggish polling numbers” argued Andrew Roth in the Guardian. Even if Putin decreased in popularity, the result means that little will change in Russian politics, he suggested. Spanish newspaper El País argues that the parliamentary elections in Russia have now become just rituals, detached from reality. The fact the little change was at stake further demotivated citizens to cast their votes - people only hope that once they voted the authorities will leave them alone, concluded Andrei Kolesnikov in Financial Times. Only by coercion did the Russian government succeed in making its citizens go to the polls.
And what did the press write about this time’s “designed” election procedure, also boldly described as “fraud”?
This time, the Kremlin added new tactics to the election fraud, suggested POLITICO, including bringing in voters from Ukraine’s pro-Russian regions and blocking videos of opposition leader Navalny and Smart Voting Apps on Google and Apple - both have not commented so far. El País and France 24 underline the Russian opposition's allegations of electoral fraud. The Guardian points out that the results of nearly 2 million online votes flipped many of the elections that appeared to be going against the Kremlin's preferred candidates. Deutsche Welle adds that the specialised NGO Golos had received more than 4,950 reports of possible electoral irregularities. The elections from Friday to Sunday took place in an atmosphere of deceit, intimidation and conflict, summarised Eva Cukier in Dutch Newspaper NRC.
Besides, all eyes were set on the Spanish island La Palma, where the volcanic eruption led to a massive evacuation. How did the press across Europe report on this devastating event?
“Thousands flee Canaries volcano as lava streams destroy homes” summarised Euronews. The volcanic eruption – the first in 50 years – has destroyed at least 183 homes and led to the evacuation of around 6,000 people, wrote Sam Jones in the Guardian on Tuesday afternoon. The risk for a real “apocalypse” is however small, estimates Der Spiegel. Earlier this week, several media outlets, amongst others El País, mentioned the possibility of a mega tsunami, to grow “dozens or even hundreds of metres” of shore. In theory the risk is real, but it is extremely small, summarised Le Soir. However, another risk seems more real: the fear for explosions and the emission of toxic gases when the lava reaches the sea. This could cause the evacuation of another 10,000 people, predicted the Independent on Tuesday evening September 21st. Even if the event was generally described as “devastating” and “destructive”, it also gave rise to so called “impressive” photos: “La Palma volcano erupts, spectacular photos” articles were published by amongst other the Guardian, Deutsche Welle, BBC, RTBF, le Parisien, NRC, and the Huffington Post.
And how about the press in Spain, what did they write about the somewhat particular reaction of the Spanish government?
The words of the Minister of Tourism, Reyes Maroto, on Canal Sur Radio have taken the spotlight in the last days. She stated that the eruption of the volcano was a “marvellous spectacle”, and a “tourist attraction.”La Vanguardia newspaper highlights the flood of criticism the minister has received for her words. Carlos Alsina, on the COPE radio, ironically stated that "volcano tourism is very interesting, but perhaps it is not very empathetic when there are five thousand people who fear they have lost their homes". El Día de Tenerife described the minister's words as a 'gaffe', and the Diario de Navarra found the minister's words “incomprehensible.” Maroto finally nuanced her words and clarified that the most urgent thing is to work to restore normality.