Daily Archives: May 31, 2012

Charles Clover

AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

An opposition activist during a protest on May 31. AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

Vladimir Putin’s popularity ratings are likely to be causing a bit of concern in Russia’s ruling circles, as a March election bump in his approval scores appears to be evaporating – and the president’s rating has fallen back to territory seen early in the last decade.

On Thursday, the Public Opinion Foundation, a respected polling agency that works for the Kremlin, published figures showing the number of Russians answering “Do you trust Vladimir Putin?” with ‘Yes’ stood at 48 per cent at the end of May, down from 55 per cent March when he won re-election with 63 per cent of the vote.  Read more

Alan Beattie

Some renewed interest in this perennial surprise fact, which apparently busts national stereotyping WIDE OPEN – the diligent Greeks work more (average 2109 hours/year) than the OECD average (1749 hours/year), second only to the South Koreans. And the idle Germans are among the lowest (1419 hours a year).

Amazing? Not really. These numbers clump together part-time and full-time workers, and Greece has proportionately more full-timers than part-timers (89.8%) compared with the OECD average (84.4%), which bumps up the number. Read more

Tony Barber

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

How much infrastructure does a European country need? The question occurs to me every time I hear about the European Union’s plans for a “growth pact” to complement “austerity”. One invariable component of these well-intentioned plans is extra investment in roads, railways, airports and so on.

The assumption seems to be that austerity-asphyxiated European countries, many of which are in the Mediterranean, will breathe more freely if they receive funds to build more infrastructure. If so, it is a lazy assumption. Read more

Neil Buckley

A still from the BBC Panorama documentary Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate. BBC/PA Wire

A still from BBC Panorama's 'Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate'. BBC/PA Wire

These are sensitive times in Poland.

Polish media spent most of Tuesday in hand-wringing outrage over a BBC Panorama documentary highlighting the problems of football-related racist violence in both Poland and Ukraine – little over a week before they host the Euro 2012 championships. Read more