Greece is a country in deep turmoil. In the capital, protesters stoned the interior ministry, attacked police stations and clashed with riot police outside parliament. They also set alight a major department store in the centre of the city and torched the official Christmas tree outside parliament. There were street battles from Thessoliniki in the north to Crete in the south..
Mr Karamanlis has claimed the riots were organised by "extremists" and indeed the role of anarchist elements in the violence is evident, however it is unlikely that they would have found widespread support amongst the country's youth without high youth unemployment, a sharply rising cost of living, stalled pension reform and an ever widening gap between rich and poor. A recent land-exchange scandal has seriously undermined the governments credibility and for the first time in 8 years the Socialist opposition party is ahead in the polls.
The centre-right government is accused of doing little to help low-income Greeks who are in the grip of the financial crisis while giving huge subsidies to the rich banks, it is perhaps not surprising that Greek youth have so little faith in the democratic system when there is little likelyhood of any existing party making a fundamental difference to these realities, however it is essential that the socialist party rises to the occassion as fear and despair are what these riots are about and this must be addressed adaquately if the violence isn't to remain simmering beneath the surface.