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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 February, 2005, 06:42 GMT
European press review

The press in Denmark digests the results of Tuesday's general election, in which the governing coalition of Liberals, Conservatives and the anti-immigration Danish People's Party won about 54% of the vote.

A French and a German paper look at France's response to the political situation in Togo, where the son of late President Gnassingbe Eyadema has taken power controversially.

And in the Czech Republic Prime Minister Stanislav Gross's property dealings come under scrutiny.

'Safe card'

Berlingske Tidende says Danish voters chose "the safe card" by returning the centre-right Liberal-Conservative government to power in Tuesday's general election.

"The electorate has renewed the government's mandate to continue the tax freeze, and approved its immigration policy as suitably stringent," it comments.

The Social Democrats had their glory days when the welfare state was being built, but today the party's policies no longer have the same appeal
Kristeligt Dagblad

It adds that the gains of the centrist Radical Liberal party, which now has 16 seats in the 179-member parliament, seven up on last term, reduces the government's need to rely on the support of the far-right Danish People's Party.

Information says Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's Liberals lost seats to smaller parties because they conducted a "spineless" campaign and voters rejected "the American-style presidential election campaign".

As for the main opposition Social Democrats, they "must now begin the badly needed and difficult process of renewal in order to find a new political platform", the paper says.

Kristeligt Dagblad says the results shows that the Social Democrats have simply lost their old attraction.

"The Social Democrats had their glory days when the welfare state was being built, but today the party's policies no longer have the same appeal," the daily argues.

"By re-electing the government parties and supporting the (far-right) Danish People's Party, the voters have crowned the political Right with the welfare state's triumphal laurel wreath," it continues.

It is in the Right's hands, the paper adds, "that voters believe the welfare system is safest."

Europe's reputation

France's Le Monde comments on Paris's disapproval of the hasty swearing-in in Togo of Faure Gnassingbe to succeed his deceased father, President Gnassingbe Eyadema, instead of the president of the Togolese parliament, Fambara Ouattara Natchaba, as constitutionally prescribed.

The French head of state... claims to know the African soul. If he does, he should understand that Africans too aspire to democracy, and in their quest they hope France picks its friends more carefully
Le Monde

The condemnation "would be more credible", the paper says, if Paris "had acted with the same firmness in [previous] similar circumstances".

"France has special responsibilities in the situation in Togo... because of its compliance, not to say complicity" with Eyadema's rule.

The paper recalls that President Jacques Chirac said he had "lost a personal friend" in President Eyadema, adding: "This friend was a tyrant, and the legacy of his 38-year reign is there to show it."

It concludes: "The French head of state... claims to know the African soul. If he does, he should understand that Africans too aspire to democracy, and in their quest they hope France picks its friends more carefully."

If the European Union turns a blind eye, it will quickly lose its good reputation in Africa
Die Tageszeitung

Germany's Die Tageszeitung argues that France, as the former colonial power, has a decisive role to play, and wonders why French troops did not take action to help Mr Natchaba.

The reason, it suspects, may be "mafia-like interests" in France intent on consolidating "the putsch by the old guard".

"If this is true and if the European Union turns a blind eye, it will quickly lose its good reputation in Africa," the paper warns.

Accountability

Prague dailies comment on the controversy over the funding for a luxury flat acquired by Prime Minister Stanislav Gross in the capital five years ago.

If a leading politician... regards as a trifle sparked off by bad journalists the suspicion that he has spent a sizable sum of unknown origin then we might as well shut up shop and go to Belarus
Hospodarske Noviny

Mr Gross, says a commentary in Hospodarske Noviny, "forgets that a politician is accountable to his voters, the public, not the other way round".

"If a leading politician... regards as a trifle sparked off by bad journalists the suspicion that he has spent a sizable sum of unknown origin then we might as well shut up shop and go to Belarus."

The prime minister, it argues, "should have provided a full, trustworthy and consistent explanation right at the outset."

A commentary in Mlada Fronta Dnes argues that it is not Mr Gross's personal integrity that is in doubt but his attitude to the duty of accountability.

"Had he wanted to," the paper says, the prime minister "could have provided precise information right at the beginning".

"It is the fact that he and people around him have since offered varying explanations that has given rise to all the speculation."

Mr Gross should "move from the realm of the emotions to that of practicality", the paper suggests, and produce the relevant paperwork to "clear up what remains unclear".

The European press review is compiled by BBC Monitoring from internet editions of the main European newspapers and some early printed editions.





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