Greece Descending Into Chaos: Resignations, Violent Protests, and Austerity

Posted on February 10, 2012 at 4:02pm

by Becket Adams

A petrol bomb explodes near riot police during protests against planned reforms by Greece's coalition government in Athens, February 10, 2012. (Source: Reuters)

Greece’s future in the eurozone grew increasingly precarious Friday as violence erupted on the streets of Athens and dissent grew among its lawmakers after European leaders demanded deeper spending cuts.

“Violence has broken out again, with hooded youths throwing stones and police firing grenades in Syntagma square,” Business Insider’s Simone Foxman reported earlier this morning.

The protests, of course, have been organized by unions unhappy with the announcement that public sector jobs will get the ax.

The country’s beleaguered coalition government promised Friday to push through the tough new austerity measures and rescue a crucial €130 billion ($170 billion) bailout deal, as six members of the Cabinet resigned.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos promised to “do everything necessary” to ensure parliament passes the new austerity measures that would slap Greeks with a minimum wage cut during a fifth year of recession.

The attempt to push through austerity measures has been met with massive push back.

In fact, according to a letter obtained by Reuters, Greek police unions have called for the arrest of EU and International Monetary Fund officials. The crime? Daring to impose austerity measures and threatening union jobs.

The letter states:
Since you are continuing this destructive policy, we warn you that you cannot make us fight against our brothers. We refuse to stand against our parents, our brothers, our children or any citizen who protests and demands a change of policy…

We warn you that as legal representatives of Greek policemen, we will issue arrest warrants for a series of legal violations…such as blackmail, covertly abolishing or eroding democracy and national sovereignty.
Of course, they would need a judge to sign off on the warrants (which wouldn’t seem very likely), but the threat is still there nevertheless.

See Greece turn violent via the Guardian:

Video at the page link

“It is absolutely necessary to complete the effort that began almost two years to consolidate public finances, restore competitiveness and economic recovery,” Papademos told an emergency Cabinet meeting.

Debt-stricken Greece needs the bailout money before a €14.5 billion bond deadline on March 20 and strike a vital debt-relief deal with bond investors.

He said the bailout and a related debt-reduction deal with private creditors would return Greece to growth next year, and deliver 4.5 percent primary surplus in 2012 – better than an earlier official prediction of 1.1 percent of gross domestic product.

“A disorderly default would cast our country into a catastrophic adventure. It would create conditions of uncontrollable economic chaos and social explosion,” he warned.

“Greeks’ standard of living in the event of a disorderly default would collapse, and the country would be swept into a deep vortex of recession, instability, unemployment and penury. These developments would lead, sooner or later, to exit from the euro.”

Earlier Friday, a small right-wing party in Papademos’ coalition said it would not back the new measures and four of its officials in the cabinet resigned, including the country’s transport minister.

Two Socialists cabinet members have also quit.

Greece has promised to approve the new austerity measures by late Sunday, despite deep public resentment.

Violent clashes broke out in front of parliament earlier in the day, amid mass protests organized by unions, which launched a 48-hour general strike.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Greece’s Descent Into Chaos: Resignations, Violenct Protests, and Austerity | Video |