Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

I turned back. It is impossible to reach down-town. 50 buildings have been set on fire and the smell of tear gas is overpowering. A few minutes ago a police precinct was attacked. A bank in Volos was burned to the ground, while MPs offices were attacked in Corfu, Western Greece and Crete...

The mobilization was unprecedented. By 5 o'clock Syntagma square was full, so was Omonia, and almost all of the surrounding streets - but it's difficult to gauge participation though because as soon as the square started to fill up the police attacked the protesters with large amounts of teargas... There is an estimate around the tweetosphere of 500.000, this is not unrealistic. Bear in mind though that after the first chemicals people, especially older people,  decided not to show up, or attempt to approach Syntagma.

Even the orderly and robust communist union's block didn't make it to Syntagma although they attempted an approach from three different directions. The Syriza block attempted many times to reach parliament. They were pushed back, and the block was attacked around 10 - 10:30.

The cops were throwing tear gas canisters in the middle of huge but peaceful crowds. The number of people injured and taken to the hospital tonight officially is 75, but in reality it's much more, the makeshift first aid stations around Syntagma (some of which I hear were attacked by the police) treated scores of people....

Among the first to be hit were Greek resistance icon Manolis Glezos and music composer Mikis Theodorakis (89 and 91 years old respectively), giving a signal that the police was not about to spare anyone. It was obvious that they had orders to keep Syntagma square clear and they did it with extreme brutality.

After that, however things got wild, either through some sort of concerted black-block action, or whatever, one after the other buildings were set on fire, banks initially but then other buildings: coffee shops, and cinemas among them - grand old buildings of great contemporary historical significance sadly.
As I write this Athens is still ablaze, and I fear this might be the start of a trend, not just an explosion. Certainly the number of people despising both the police and the current government skyrocketed today and as the state is reduced more and more to shows of police brutality anti-authoritarian or even just blind violence will grow more frequent.

About the vote: As expected. The two leaders, the political and electoral nullity (8% approval rate) of George Papandreou and Antonis Samaras (soon to follow him in disrepute) threw out a total of 41 MPs from their parties. The two teams of expelled MPs are strong enough to create two new parties: one at PASOK's left perhaps (although most of them are also in disrepute exactly for following the PASOK leadership's orders for so long) and one at ND's populist right. Panos Kammenos, an economic populist (and virulent nationalist , it has to be said) is said to be preparing such a party, though not all of the MPs who were expelled would feel comfortable in such a political environment.

The left will gain: Democratic Left as a more "moderate" left is receiving a huge inflow of moderate PASOK voters, looking for a less damaged political roof, but also SYRIZA and KKE have stabilized at very high numbers and the current climate of popular unrest will probably strengthen them. All three of these parties voted against the memorandum and SYRIZA and KKE have promised to undo all of its measures one by one, on constitutional grounds...

There is talk of a continuous general strike planned for most of the country's public enterprises, and a continuous series of strikes in the rest of the public and private sector. I think it is labor now, more than any other part of the Greek population that will carry the torch of the popular battle...

I would also like to point out that those who are building a Europe of solidarity, a real European Union, well they are not Merkel...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 09:05:26 PM EST


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