Portions of Athens’ city centre are now in ruins after rioters burnt down historic buildings and vandalised shops in protest over planned austerity measures. After days of fierce debate, the Greek Parliament voted to approve the austerity package Monday morning, in return for a 130bn euro bailout from the EU and the IMF.
Over the next three years, the Greek austerity plan will involve cutting the minimum wage by 22 per cent and laying off 150,000 government employees.
Incensed by these stringent measures, over 80,000 people took to the streets of Athens on Monday evening to voice their disapproval. Portions of the crowd turned violent, throwing rocks, sticks and firebombs at various nearby buildings and shops. Sixty seven people were arrested for their part in the riots, and 75 more were taken in to custody for questioning. Among the 45 buildings that were damaged by protesters were two historic cinemas, two police stations, a number of banks and a Starbucks Coffee shop.
Though Greece, or more specifically the flailing Greek economy, has been in and out of the headlines since 2009, it seems like the country’s financial troubles have now come to a breaking point. Many are questioning whether the troubled country would be wise to embrace a default and leave and the euro, though others fear that Greece’s dishonourable exit would severely damage the Eurozone’s reputation within the global economy.
What do you think is the right step forward for Greece? Are the austerity measures fair? Should the country choose to default? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.