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European press review

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Myanmar's by-elections for just a tiny fraction of the seats in parliament makes news around the world. The UK government is accused of e-snooping. A Hungarian minister resigns. Is Britain on its own when it comes to the Falklands/Malvinas islands? And how hi-tech migrants never really leave home.


These just weren't any elections. They saw the opposition, led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, sweep to victory, winning almost all the seats up for grabs.

The result was a clear demonstration of popular opinion as Myanmar's leaders begin to allow democracy in.

Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza can see a parallel with the political transformation that Poland went through in 1989, and it warns that Suu Kyi still has a tough job ahead of her.

Almost half of Myanmar's population comes from minorities, the centre-left daily says. They've led a brutally oppressed life and they will find it hard to trust the state again, even if it's more democratic in the future and Suu Kyi is part of it. She may have spent more than 20 years in detention but that will carry little weight with people whose memories are stained by the violence of the last few decades, the paper says.

In Britain, civil liberties were making headlines, as the government weighed whether to introduce laws on monitoring emails and other private communication.

According to the Guardian, Prime Minister David Cameron had backed plans to monitor people's emails, phone calls and social media communications and a plan to create new secret courts, with the aim of keeping Britain safe.

The email monitoring would have involved millions of people, the left-leaning daily says, and contravened the coalition's promise two years ago to restore the rights of individuals in the face of encroachment by the state. But parliament is weighing in and has criticised the government for casting its security net too widely. Cameron must now come up with a tighter, more evidence-based set of proposals that show full respect for natural justice.

Hungary has been under fire in Europe in recent weeks and this week was no exception.

Headlines were made with the resignation of President Pal Schmitt, accused of plagiarising parts of his doctoral thesis.

Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung says the affair just detracts from more important issues. Schmitt has already done his most important work in endorsing more than 360 controversial new laws, without asking questions about them or of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the Munich-based daily says.

This diverts attention from the stalled negotiations with the IMF, Hungary's budget problems and the battle with the European Commission. One good thing is that democracy has worked this time and Schmitt finally bowed to pressure from the public, the opposition and parts of the ruling party to quit.

The anniversary of the war in the Falkands/Malvinas also made plenty of front pages.

For Spanish newspaper El Pais, Argentina's leader, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has put the conflict back on the international agenda and Britain can't ignore it. Today, Britain lacks the international support it had to launch the war over the islands 30 years ago, the centre-left daily says. The United States is staying out of things, while Europe may dance around the issue and call for talks between the parties involved. But it's clear that the Falklands, just like Gibraltar, will remain British as long as people living there want it that way, the Spanish paper says.

And we end this week with the hi-tech world's impact on the trials of living abroad.

The Irish Times looks at how Skype, the internet, mobile phones and satellite television make it possible to live your life in a virtual version of your homeland, no matter where you are on the planet.

The liberal daily talks to a French woman who's lived in Ireland for more than 40 years, but who speaks more French than English, reads the news from home and can choose from 21 French TV stations. Indeed she rarely feels as if she's left France, and will be well informed when she votes online in the upcoming presidential election.

One downside is that it can lead to suspicion about whether migrants really want to integrate. But experts say new technologies are leading to a kind of "transnational identity" being created, and that countries are adapting by allowing more dual citizenship, the paper says.

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