Shame and resistance in Athens

Syriza’s statement on the Troika-imposed Memorandum 3 which was approved in Athens on Wednesday 7 Nov 2012.

“After a completely anti-constitutional  ‘express process’ that lasted for less than 24 hours, the Greek Parliament voted for the new austerity measures prescribed in the 800 pages (!) of the 3rd Memorandum (cuts of 13.5 billion Euro).

The second day of the 48-hour general strike of the trade-unions reached its momentum today, after 17.00 local time, when more than 100.000 demonstrators gathered on Syntagma Square and surrounded the Parliament.  Heavy rain did not prevent the citizens of Athens from joining the demonstration.

During the demonstration, the 71 MPs of SYRIZA USF temporarily left the parliament chamber, holding a banner with the slogan “You destroyed the country! Leave now!” and joined the demonstrators on the square.

The riot police did everything possible to “clean up” the square before the time of the final vote: water cannons were used for the first time in Greece, stun grenades and extensive use of tear-gas. In total there were more than 100 arrests and at least 5 injured demonstrators.

The voting ended at around 00:30 am local time: the 3rd Memorandum has been ratified 153-128-18 with one MP absent.


FOR: 153/299 = 126 New Democracy (leader Samaras) + 27 PASOK (leader Venizelos)

{N.B. that the Greek constitution awards 50 extra seats to the largest party (i.e. New Democracy) so some say there is no real mandate and the Government’s actual vote for is really 103!}

AGAINST: 128/299= 71 SYRIZA USF; 20 Independent Greeks; 18 Golden Dawn; 12 KKE; 3 Democratic Left (against the official position of their party); 2 PASOK (against the official position of their party); 3 independents.

ABSTENTIONS: 18/299 = 13 Democratic Left (the official position of the party); 3 PASOK (against the official position of their party); 1 New Democracy (against the official position of his party).

ABSENT: 1/300 (Kostas Skandalidis was absent on purpose, against the official position of his party, PASOK)

Immediately after the announcement of the result, the leaders of New Democracy (Mr Samaras) and PASOK (Mr Venizelos) expelled 7 MPs from their Parliamentary Groups, for not voting in favour of the measures (6 from PASOK and 1 from New Democracy).

The battle continues with the next crucial vote, on Sunday 11 November on the Budget 2013.  Until Sunday there will be consecutive demonstrations all over the country.”

A DAY OF RESISTANCE – “Neither Venizelos or Samaras the Time for the Left has Arrived!”

Alexis Tsipras, Syriza leader appealed on Wednesday to the MPs of the two junior parties in the coalition government to vote against the package of austerity cuts. Tsipras urged Pasok and Democratic Left MPs not to fall in line with the ‘front of the Memorandum’ but to align themselves, even at this late hour, “with the people for the defence of democracy and society”. Syriza’s leader stressed that each MP’s responsibility toward the country and the people took precedence over any fleeting party discipline and urged MPs to “rise to your historic responsibility and contribute to the great change that the people need”.

Public transport came to a halt for a second consecutive day in Athens on Wednesday 8th as employees took part in a two-day general strike called by the country’s two major trade unions GSEE and ADEDY, in protest against the package of new austerity measures. Buses, trolleys and OSE railway trains were affected. The Athens Metro and ISAP urban trains were running from 3pm to the end of the shift, to facilitate participation of the public in the planned protest rally on Syntagma Square at 5pm. Taxi services were hit by a rolling 24-hour strikes that began on Monday.

Local government employees staged a take-over of the Administrative Reform ministry on Wednesday, protesting the austerity measures contained in the omnibus bill, particularly those affecting local government and public sector workers. Some 200 local government employees, members of the POE-OTA local government workers’ union staged a take-over of the ministry headquarters on central Vassilissis Sophias Avenue, while a 15-member POE-OTA delegation was meeting with minister Antonis Manitakis in the latter’s office. The take-over ended after the meeting with Manitakis.

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