NRC Handelsblad, The Hague, May 14: First the positive news: Italians do care about their country. The polling stations had to stay open overnight on Sunday, because so many Italians came to vote.
The result of the elections is less positive. Of course, the voters are always right, but the question is whether their choice will bring stability to Italy.
Of utmost importance is the personality of Silvio Berlusconi himself. It is not proven that Mafia money made him the tycoon he is now. However, it is clear that he still plays a role in several court cases. It also is clear that he owns a big part of the media, which might lead to conflict of interests.
Benefit of the doubt: Besides, his party program threatens the European Union on some serious points. However, since the voters are almost always right, the EU should give Berlusconi the benefit of the doubt for now.
This principle gives the EU states a chance to constantly test the future prime minister on European standards, which he claims to support.
La Stampa, Turin, May 16: Foreign policy was the Cinderella of the Italian election campaign. Yet, the first test confronting the new Italian government will be global -- the G-8 summit in Genoa next July.
Silvio Berlusconi will be in Genoa armed with an advantage and burdened by a disadvantage.
The advantage is that the Northern League with its anti-European, anti-American and pro-Slobodan Milosevic stance managed less than 4 percent in the elections. This allows the government to present a respectable image to its European partners.
Good wishes: The speedy arrival of good wishes to Berlusconi from President George W. Bush and from European Commission president, Romano Prodi, was poignant.
The disadvantage concerns the past. Berlusconi's foreign policy -- too much anti-Europeanism and deafness toward the aspirations of the people from the former Yugoslavia -- failed during his first government experience.
Greater tact is needed in central European and Balkan affairs, where Italy now counts more than it did 10 years ago.
The Globe and Mail, Toronto, May 14: There are plenty of reasons to oppose the use of capital punishment. The almost incomprehensible ineptitude of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in handling the Timothy McVeigh case underlines one of the most persuasive arguments: the utter finality of execution.
Dwarfing all else is the jolting revelation that even in a case of this magnitude -- the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil -- the judicial system can go grievously wrong.
Troublesome question: Regardless of the outcome, a far more troublesome question is left dangling: How many other people, in the United States and elsewhere, have been executed on the basis of a flawed judicial process?
Capital punishment, we would argue, has no proven deterrent value and is morally wrong. But in addition, the McVeigh case illustrates that the justice system can and does fail. Where the death penalty is involved, the consquences of such failure are particularly frightening.
The Times, London, May 15: Labor has unveiled its latest electoral weapon -- Star Wars. Geri Halliwell, the artist formerly known as Ginger Spice, has abandoned her previous admiration for Baroness Thatcher (the original Spice Girl) and transferred her affections to Tony Blair (the pragmatic Spice Boy).
Spicing up his campaign is a strategic move, but Mr. Blair should take note that cause-celebing is an uncertain game. The famous flock to fashionable causes like sheep but they also have a habit of straying from the fold. The preoccupations of the starry are more fleeting than the attention spans that create them.
Danger: Being upstaged is no less a danger. In 1964 an actor called Ronald Reagan delivered a television address in support of the Republican candidate Barry Goldwater. So impressive was his performance that it was suggested that Reagan himself give politics a shot. Halliwell for PM, anyone?
Jordan Times, Amman, May 15: On the eve of al-Naqba, or what Arab and Palestinian term the "catastrophe" of Israel's creation 53 years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sent out a series of violent reminders of his policies that have brought neither peace nor security to the Israelis, two months after he was swept to power after making these two election promises.
Israel's confiscation of Palestinian land, the demolition of their homes and the growth of settler communities in the occupied territories are among the most combustible components causing Arab dismay and anger.
Cracks: Sharon, who is presiding over a coalition government that is beginning to show cracks, has to be clearly told by the international community that he can no longer go on holding the region hostage to his outdated vision and iron-fisted policies.
For he cannot go on continuing his 'yes, but' diplomatic charm offensive for fear that an outright rejection would bring international isolation. He is already walking a tightrope with his coalition partners on the one hand and growing international criticism on the other hand.
Is this how Sharon plans for Israel to spend the rest of its national days?