Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Athens Mayor Takes On Protest Voters to Reclaim City’s Streets

April 27, 2011

George Kaminis is trying to reclaim the streets of Athens from protesters who elected him mayor in November. He scored his first victory this month when workers demanding permanent jobs ended a 25-day occupation of city hall.

The demonstrators kept the New York-born lawyer out of the building on March 28, forcing the municipal council to pass Athens’s 899 million-euro ($1.3 billion) 2011 budget at a nearby hotel. Kaminis, 56, held two other meetings at alternative sites during the sit-in.

His refusal to allow picketers to stop policymaking shows the mayor’s resolve to restore normalcy in a city crippled by work stoppages and voted Europe’s most unlivable in 2010 by the Mercer consulting firm. The municipal employees ended the protest April 15 after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of employees at gambling company Opap SA. (OPAP) The court decision may act as a precedent for pending cases.

“Blackmail, threats and violence have no place in democracy,” Kaminis said at an April 11 council meeting held at the offices of Athens’s local radio station, according to a statement posted on the municipality’s website. He made the comments as police and demonstrators clashed outside.


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