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Κυριακή, 14 Δεκεμβρίου 2008

The Greek Riots Explained

The Excuse: On December 6th a 15 year old school boy was shot dead by a policeman in Athens. Apparently, the policeman had not legitimate reason for doing so.

The Aftermath: For five days now groups of young men, self-described anarchists, have been spreading mayhem in the streets of Athens and other cities throughout the country. The damages are estimated to be more than €100 million so far. More than 400 stores and other businesses have sustained damages in Athens alone.

The Cause: Extremely high tolerance for illegal and anti-social behavior. The coverage in the international media has often cited Greece’s economic and social challenges due to the high involvement of government into the economy as the cause of the present crisis.

It’s a serious issue and it will be the cause of the most important problems that Greece will face in the future but it has little to do with the present crisis. Greece is one of the countries in the European south that had its democracy restored relatively recently, in 1974. In the period between 1967-74, the country was governed by a right leaning military dictatorship.

In the period before that most often the country was governed by rightist governments which often acted in an authoritarian way, usually harassing, arresting and imprisoning their leftist political opponents. With the restoration and full establishment of a democracy in 1974 the forces of the left (represented by the Socialists, Communists and the Democratic Left) started to gain the upper hand in politics. The gains of the left were not limited only to the political arena. As in the rest of Europe, the left started to dominate the universities, the media and other cultural institutions. The history of the country went for a rewrite and the cultural norms took a shape and form according to the interests and ideology of the new leftist establishment. Continue