greeks portending the future?


Greece has been torn apart by the worst riots in decades, now entering their third week. Bands of self-declared anarchist youths have rampaged through the streets of Athens and other major cities causing hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage, setting off a spiral of unrest in which the nation’s unions, among other groups, have taken part. Both shops and hotel lobbies have been ransacked, and hospitals, airports, and transport have been brought to a standstill. What sparked the riots was the accidental police shooting of a 15-year-old boy, Alexandros Grigoropoulos. But as usual in such cases, there was much more in the way of causes lying beneath the surface. Youth unemployment is high throughout the European Union, but it is particularly high in Greece, hovering between 25 and 30 percent. With few job prospects, rampant poverty in the face of nouveau riche prosperity, a public university system in shambles, a bloated government sector in desperate need of an overhaul, and a weak, defensive conservative government with only a one-seat majority in parliament, it is a ripe period for protests, which have had as their aim the fall of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

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