Protests in 2010 began on May 5. This was in protest against government “austerity measures” (read: cuts in public spending), demanded by IMF, in return for a 110-billion euro “bail out”. Reason for the bail out: a Greek government debt crisis (see diagram).
Wikipedia: “In May 2010, the Greek government deficit was again revised and estimated to be 13.6% which was one of the highest in the world relative to GDP and public debt was forecast, according to some estimates, to hit 120% of GDP during 2010, one of the highest rates in the world”.
Wikipedia: “Three people were killed on the 5 May protests, one of the largest in Greece since 1973”. The 3 people who were killed were bank workers who went to work, in spite of the general strike. Hence, these 3 were strikebreakers.
Further protests on May 25, 2010. These are organized by Direct Democracy Now! Movement. So, a. direct democracy (as opposed to “parliamentary democracy”) is one of the first and main goals of the protestors. Other slogans of 25 May: “Greece your turn has come, you have to stop burying your children.” This is in reference to 2008 killing of a 15 year old boy by the police. In general: down with a repressive and violent government.
Oust! (Greek interjection of a negative nature, meaning "leave"). This slogan expresses a desire for peaceful revolution.
“The maid resisted. What do we do? (Reference to an alleged sex scandal involving former IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn)”. A rape Greece by the imperialist powers (IMF). A call to the sense of national dignity.
There were further protests on May 27 and 29. A slogan of 27 May, 2011: “The taxation system is not the same for the rich and the poor. Equal rights for everyone”. Fundamentally: a reformist program. No “equality” is possible between the rich and poor (in the economic sense). Hence, the ridiculous solution proposed: “Harder taxation on the rich”.
Wikipedia: “Sparked by the 2011 Spanish Protests, these demonstrations were organized entirely using social networking sites, which earned it the nickname "May of Facebook". It is curious that the demos were organized through “Facebook”, the most philistine, apolitical type of a network one can imagine. It was not organized through one of the many Internet political conferences or newsgroups. Why? We can point to the Arab Spring protests, which were organized through Facebook a well, especially the events in Egypt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Egyptian_revolution ). This was done to avoid police surveillance. Hence, we should understand that all open political forums and newsgroups are under police surveillance, which prevents these discussions from taking off, leading to isolation of revolutionaries.Wikipedia: “On 29 June 2011, violent clashes occurred between the riot police and protesters as the Greek parliament voted to accept the EU's austerity requirements. Accusations of police brutality were reported”. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S20_JuaX8gg , 29 June, 2011 – police beating up on demonstrators
Some of the most popular slogans of June 2010 included:
Bread-Education-Freedom – the dictatorship didn’t fall in '73!
We do not owe, we will not sell away, we will not pay.
Minister of culture, minister of censorship
Hence, we understand the basic demands of the people were:
- End of the economic poverty
- Good education
- Freedom to speak. Direct democracy.
- Refuse to pay on the debt to IMF
Social -Economic Causes of the Greek protests
The Greek society is actually experiencing a drop in its population: “According to the ELSTAT, Greece's total population in 2001 was 10,964,020. …The preliminary results of the 2011 census show a decrease in the country's population to 10,787,690, a drop of 1.6%”. Demographics is an indication of development of a society. A progressive society has a positive growth of population, e.g. England in XVIII-XIX centuries (the other case are very poor societies trying to preserve its population: an increase in quantity at the expense of quality). Negative population growth we see in societies in crisis, as for example in the former USSR today. Hence, a drop in population of Greece indicates a long-term social-economic crisis.
Wikipedia: “In the early-mid 2000s, Greece's economy was strong and the government took advantage by running a large deficit. As the world economy cooled in the late 2000s, Greece was hit especially hard because its main industries—shipping and tourism—were especially sensitive to changes in the business cycle. As a result, the country's debt began to pile up rapidly”. So, the problems are: a) A large unemployment, b) A large government debt.
About the former, we read: “unemployment exceeded 15%, while a big percentage of full-time workers were only awarded the minimum wage of 592 Euros, or even less”. Hence, it is not only unemployment, but general economic poverty of the working class.
About the latter, the cause is illustrated by a slogan of the protesters of 25 May, 2011: “I vote, You vote, He votes, She votes, We vote, You vote, They steal”. So, it is government corruption and theft.
On the right, we see a figure illustrating the economy of Greece. We notice a correlation: whenever the capitalist economy goes into crisis, we have the social protests. E.g. 1973, 2008, 2010-2011.
“The New York Times”, from 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/11/world/europe/11iht-greece.4.18609204.html, writes: “A range of issues - economic stagnation, widespread corruption, a troubled education system, rising poverty, precarious security (read: insecurity, fear of poverty) - were thrust to the fore this week as thousands of Greeks spilled onto the streets to protest against the government”. A spark for the protests was a death of a 15 year boy, killed by the police in Athens. So, we establish that there are long-term social-economic causes for the protests, and immediate causes, or “sparks”, which ignite the protests. Obviously, without the former, the latter would not exist.
The newspaper continues: “Since narrowly winning re-election in 2007, Karamanlis's government has been beset by corruption scandals and criticized for its handling of forest fires that burned out of control and killed 80 in the summer of 2007”. Mismanagement.
We should note that the Greek political system is run by 2 political systems, modeled after the U.S. and Britain. The “left” is taken by PASOK, a “socialist” party (only name, as the Russian Communist Party of G. Zyuganov is communist only in name). The other party of “New Democracy”, a right-wing party of which Karamanlis, mentioned above, was the leader.