What's New(s)

What's New(s) - Party gate, the beginning of the end? - 14/01/2022

What's New(s) - Party gate, the beginning of the end?  - 14/01/2022

What´s New(s)? La revue de presse anglophone – Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

You'll find the script below :

After a short break we are back with a new overview of pressing issues that made the headlines in Europe this week. The holiday break did not seem to do any good for the already damaged reputation of Brexiteer Boris Johnson. 

What happened this week? 

Indeed, Boris Johnson again is the star of the frontpages. This week the Guardian revealed an email in which the PM invited around 100 staff members to a socially relaxed "bring your own drink" event, a situation that prompted Boris Johnson to apologise to the nation during a debate in the House of Commons. According to Rafa de Miguel, El País, Boris Johnson had to swallow 'the bitterest pill of his political career'. According to the Spanish journalist, Johnson has survived numerous appearances in the House of Commons thanks to his jokes and a certain degree of histrionics encouraged by the Conservative bench, but none of these has been as harsh as this last one. According to Chloé Goudenhooft, Le Soir, the charges against Boris Johnson are piling up… 

But with his reputation severely damaged, will he still manage to cling to power, what does the press predict? 

According to the last YouGov poll, 56% of the British citizens want Boris Johnson to resign. 34% of the members of the conservative party also want Boris Johnson to quit his position as Prime Minister. According to Patrick Wintour, The Guardian, the reek of hypocrisy and contempt for an assumed sense of national shared sacrifice is what endangers the Prime Minister. He suggests that only the betrayed public can decide whether the PM will survive the party gate or not. Cécile Ducourtieux in Le Monde asserts that the future of Boris Johnson seems from now on uncertain. Carlos Fresneda, El Mundo’s correspondent in London underlines that it is the 7th time now that Boris Johnson denied having violated the COVID rules. Only time will tell if Johnson will manage to stay in office, but the future seems quite dark for the Prime Minister. 

But then coming back to the Netherlands, where the new government led by Teflon Mark Rutte was officially installed last Monday. What did the press write about this new government?

Indeed Erik, in December last year the governing parties finally reached an agreement after the longest formation ever in the history of the country. Last Monday January 10th, the new government was officially sworn in. A fresh start with new ministers, even if the ruling parties are exactly the same as during the last governing period. According to the Dutch press, this new start will however certainly not be easy, since the parties face the challenging task of restoring the citizens’ confidence – just over a year ago, the government was forced to step down due to the social benefit scandal, and the constantly changing Corona-policies did not do any good to the already damaged reputation of outgoing ministers. Research by one of the Netherlands’ biggest research organisations revealed that only 3 out of 10 voters have confidence in the new government. “The country that Rutte III left behind was a distrustful country” stated newspaper NRC. What foreign media mainly picked up about the composition of “Rutte IV” was the fact that half of the 20 new senior Cabinet ministers are women. “For the first time in the country’s political history”, emphasised Euronews.

So a new government with the same parties, and what will be the main political priorities for the next years?

Well, if there is one thing that stands out in the overall coalition agreement, is extra spending for the upcoming years. “The Dutch are set to spend big with a massive €29 billion in additional expenses on the books for 2025, a huge increase” concluded Lukas Kotkamp in POLITICO. With hardly any austerity measures in the coalition agreement, the expenditure is mainly paid for through loans, arriving just over the European threshold of 60 percent in national debt in relation to gross domestic product by the end of the new term. The government is breaking with its traditional focus on balanced budgets and a small state, abandoning its ‘frugal’ label, wrote Financial Times. The main priorities of the new government include housing and climate. New climate minister Rob Jetten of left liberal D66, who gained the nickname “climate alarmist”, stated that the country has a lot of catching up to do. Therefore, he aims to significantly increase the emission cut target to 60% by 2030, wrote newspaper NRC. The new government also plans to open two new nuclear power plants. As an answer to the question “Will the new government be more pro-EU?”, EU-observer replied: kind of. It will follow the track of the outspoken pro-EU German government, wrote the newspaper, while at the same time still insisting on the importance of “conditionalities” in EU funding.