Mark Rutte is losing sleep as the Socialist Party smells victory. Young Greeks go Dutch and Bert van Marwijk could learn a thing or two from the Dutch robot football team.
Mark Rutte’s “two faces” under fire from two sides
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Ruttte is under fire from two sides according to De Telegraaf. While the Socialist Party and Freedom Party accuse him of being too pro-European, the D66 democrats say he is not going far enough on the issue of more political integration in Europe. Mr Rutte denies being “two-faced”, but he may have to take sides by the end of the week as there is a European summit for government leaders on a possible political union in Europe. In Trouw, the PM’s ambiguous position on Europe is defended by Euro MP Hans van Baalen, “If you say yes in Brussels, they like you. If you say no now and then, they start taking you seriously. Mark Rutte is taken seriously in Europe.”
Meanwhile de Volkskrant describes the atmosphere at the tense conservative VVD congress at the weekend. The paper says it is not just Mark Rutte who is two-faced, party delegates are optimistic on stage, but show they are worried once they are off it. Trouw points out that the congress would have been a two-day affair if it hadn’t been for the fall of the government. Now the party will hold an election rally in August. The party bosses try to give the VVD a fresh look by strategically placing young party members on the stage behind Mr Rutte. Mayor of Maastricht Onno Hoes points out it is the first time a encumbent VVD prime minister has ever led the party into an election.
De Volkskrant comments that the pressure is showing. In spite of a standing ovation the prime minister’s performance was not spectacular. D66 leader Alexander Pechtold accuses the PM of having “weak knees”, because he promises to undo some of the measures in an austerity package brokered in just a couple of days in the so-called Spring Agreement last May as soon as the next election is done with. D66 and two other opposition parties came to the government's aid after the Freedom Party withdrew its support for the minority Rutte cabinet following seven weeks of negotiations.
Socialist Party smells victory
The Socialist Party (SP) is taking advantage of the momentum as it climbs up the polls. Trouw reports that it’s all hands on deck. The party’s core members (around 200 people) will be expected to work all-out and make no mistakes in the run-up to the next election. “The party can smell victory and doesn’t want to lose it because of something stupid,” writes Trouw.
Campaign leader and Senator Tiny Kox hopes the SP will do well. “1.5 million votes, perhaps two million, maybe three million. After all, one in three Dutch people say they can imagine voting for SP under certain circumstances,” he says quoting an opinion poll.
To make sure everybody knows what to say, campaign leaders are being instructed on how to organise local campaigns. They are also expected to draw in more members “No-one leaves the house without a couple of application forms in their pockets.” Party leader Emile Roemer says he “can’t do it alone,” in spite of his popularity. In its piece on the VVD congress, Trouw writes that Prime Minister Rutte is losing sleep over the idea that he could be replaced by Mr Roemer.
Young Greeks are going Dutch
There is more Greek being spoken in some pubs in Delft than Dutch, according to nrc.next. The economic crisis is driving young Greeks abroad, and many of them are coming to the Netherlands. With youth unemployment in Greece at 21.7 percent, they come looking for a job. However, they are not seasonal or factory workers like the East Europeans. Although many are overqualified for the jobs they do, as their English is not good enough for the jobs they are qualified for.
So one solution is to follow plan B and do a masters abroad. The Greeks are now the fourth largest group among international students in the Netherlands. The number of Greek students has doubled since 2007 from 700 to 1400. At the Technical University of Delft, Greeks are the second nationality knocking Chinese students out of a position they held for many years. A Greek student organisation helps their compatriots find their way around Dutch society. However, it also helps them find work back at home. “Greece is suffering from a huge brain drain. It’s not good for the country,” says society founder Theodore Klouvas, who personally is not planning to go back.
Van Marwijk can stay…for now
After Holland’s disappointing performance at the 2012 European Championships in Ukraine, national football coach Bert van Marwijk’s position looked unsteady. However, AD announces that the Dutch football association KNVB is planning to keep him on, at least until his contract runs out in 2016.
As a result of this interim decision, it looks like the team and the technical staff had better watch their backs, while the KNVB tries to work out what went wrong. Are the rumours true that Rafael van der Vaart packed his case and threatened to leave the training sessions in Hoenderloo, did left-back Wilfred Bouma hit the team doctor or did he push him? One thing is for certain, the press were quick to point out that the team seemed to lack the chemistry it needed to win the competition. The paper concludes that so far there are no signs of Van Marwijk resigning and the KNVB denies it’s taking its time to work out a cheap and painless exit for Holland’s most successful manager the nation ever had before the Euro 2012 competition started.
Dutch victory at world Robocup 2012
Maybe Van Marwijk should take note of Holland’s victory at the world robot football championships Robocup 2012 in Mexico City. De Volkskrant explains their success “No egos, so Holland’s football robots become champions”.
The players fall silent as the final whistle blows, on the sideline it’s the Tech United programmers of Eindhoven’s Technical University that jump into each others’ arms. Victory had never been so sweet after losing the final four times. There were tense moments in the match because even though the Dutch were 2-1 ahead of Iran’s Mechatronic Research Laboratory, one of the Dutch robots malfunctioned in the first half and could only be fixed at half time. After the break, Holland scored twice. The final goal being a classic text book example of skill and dexterity as the ball crossed the middle line straight to an attacker, who gracefully turned away from his defender and netted the ball.
The football competition becomes more human every year. But the programmers had better not make them too human; one of the programmers declares, “Football robots do not have egos and they listen to their coach.”