Flames spread around Athens as demonstrators protested a vote in parliament on an austerity measures, which have been ordered upon the country in exchange for €130 billion from the International Monetary Fund and other European countries. The New York Times reports that demonstrators were throwing firebombs, and according to the Associated Press at least 10 buildings have been set on fire. The BBC cites reports saying as many as 80,000 people were involved in the Athens demonstration with 20,000 more in Thessaloniki.
The BBC broke down what the measures mean:
- 15,000 public-sector job cuts
- liberalisation of labour laws
- lowering the minimum wage by 20% from 751 euros a month to 600 euros
- negotiating a debt write-off with banks.
The Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said the austerity will “restore the fiscal stability and global competitiveness of the economy, which will return to growth, probably in the second half of 2013,” according to the New York Times.
And Reuters reported Papademos’ condemnation of the violence: “Vandalisms, violence and destruction have no place in a democratic country and won’t be tolerated.”
But demonstrators railed against Germany, according to the Times:
Protesters angrily criticized Germany, which has consistently argued for a tough austerity package.
“We’ve fought several times for liberation, but this slavery is worse than any other,” said Stella Papafagou, 82, pulling down a surgical mask worn over her mouth to keep out tear gas being fired by the police to push back protesters from Parliament. “This is worse than the ’40s,” she said, referring to the Nazi occupation.
“This time the government is following the Germans’ orders,” she said. “I would prefer to die with dignity than with my head bent down.”
ITV reporter Martin Geissler tweeted the following photo of a Starbucks on fire:
Update: 6:54 p.m.
The measures passed.