“[…] riots were triggered by a specific police shooting and sustained by broad opposition to a weak right-wing government, and as such are unlikely to spread directly to other territories. But as of yesterday, hundreds of people were detained across the Europe, including Spain, France and Denmark, as protesters attacked banks, shops, police stations and cars in an apparent show of support[…]”
“The government is also facing mounting criticism over a string of financial scandals. Even as protesters rampaged, a parliamentary committee was taking evidence in a scandal over an illegal government land swap carried out with Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos. Senior ministers are said to have diddled taxpayers out of some €100m while handsomely lining their own pockets. Two have resigned already: George Voulgarakis, the merchant-marine minister, whose wife acted as a notary for the deal, and Theodoros Roussopoulos, the government’s spokesman. […]
The feel-good factor allowed the conservatives to ignore the pressing case for social reform, particularly in education, health and policing. But as the global slowdown takes effect, young Greeks see their parents struggling to pay the bills. If they cannot afford to study abroad, they get lousy tuition at a Greek university and, unless their family can pull strings, few chances of a good job. The unemployment rate for young graduates is 21%, compared with 8% for the population as a whole.”
“Because of unemployment, a quarter of those under 25 are below the poverty line,” said Petros Linardos, an economist at the Labour Institute of the Greek trade unions. “That percentage has been increasing for the past 10 years. There is a diffused, widespread feeling that there are no prospects. This is a period when everyone is afraid of the future because of the economic crisis. There is a general feeling that things are going to get worse. And there is no real initiative from the government.”
“[…]To be sure, Greece has more than its fair share of unresolved history. Its civil war lasted longer and ended later than similar struggles sparked by the second world war. The 1967-74 dictatorship of the colonels can be seen almost as an epilogue.
Greek politics can be correspondingly raw: with family dynasties often treating both party and state as personal patrimony. Two aspects of this culture – vested interests that shade into corruption, and a robust tradition of public protest – keep colliding in ever more combustible ways, as the buildings ablaze in downtown Athens well attest.
“It must root out the corruption that places it 57th (out of 180 countries) and 23rd in the EU in Transparency International’s 2008 corruption perceptions index.[…]”