Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Greek ‘Indignants’ Face Down Politicians

June 29, 2011

His face covered in white powder to stop the tear gas from stinging, George Styliatis is into his second month of trying to topple Greece’s leadership.

“We need this government to fall, we need a new constitution, a new Greece,” Styliatis, 41, an unemployed former ambulance driver, said as he mingled in central Athens during a general strike yesterday. “They wanted us divided, but at this time, as you see around us, all the people are here.”

Nowhere in Europe are politicians facing the wrath of the people who put them in power more than in Greece.

As Prime Minister George Papandreou tries to unite his party behind a package of cuts, increased taxes and asset sales, protesters are galvanizing their opposition to the politicians they blame for needing it in the first place. Lawmakers cast ballots today and tomorrow on the austerity measures, conditions for more foreign aid needed to prevent Greece from becoming the first European Union member to default on its debt.

Anger has turned Syntagma Square opposite the parliament in Athens into a symbol of the clash between the direct democracy of the ancient world and the decay of modern Greek politics, which started with the end of the military junta in 1974.

“A big percentage of the Greek people is under-represented in the Greek Parliament,” Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, appointed this month by Papandreou to bolster support for the economic plan, said in a speech in parliament late yesterday. “They should come so we can have a serious discussion. We are obliged to take such initiatives.”


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