Abstract detail

Title The December 2008 Riots in Greece

The shooting by a police officer of a fifteen-year old boy in Athens, on 6 December 2008, sparked almost three weeks of destructive rioting and militant protest demonstrations in much of the country. This was generally recognised as the greatest social upheaval since the downfall of the military dictatorship in 1974. The protestors in December consisted of schoolchildren and students in vast numbers; while the destruction was perpetrated mainly by small numbers of apolitical hooligans, and by revolutionary and anti-authoritarian groups, who continued frequently for some months afterwards to attack property and people. The main cause of the riots was the unprovoked killing of the boy. However their scale, duration, and destructiveness were due to a tradition of anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist activity - dating from 1974 - which manifested itself in terrorist attacks and in frequent protest movements, especially by wage-earners and students. Such protests flourished in a context of chronically ineffectual but over-centralised government. Consequently, the public distrust of government, and in particular of the police, were particularly strong by European standards. It was strong among young people, whose feeling of insecurity was worsened by the slowing of the economy in 2008.

Primary author
David Close