The Guardian reports:
Athenians used to stop off at Syntagma Square for the shopping, the shiny rows of upmarket boutiques. Now they arrive in their tens of thousands to protest. Swarming out of the metro station, they emerge into a village of tents, pamphleteers and a booming public address system.
Since 25 May, when demonstrators first converged here, this has become an open-air concert – only one where bands have been supplanted by speakers and music swapped for an angry politics. On this square just below the Greek parliament and ringed by flashy hotels, thousands sit through speech after speech. Old-time socialists, American economists just passing through, members of the crowd: they each get three minutes with the mic, and most of them use the time alternatively to slag off the politicians and to egg on their fellow protesters.
“Being here makes me feel 18 again,” begins one man, his polo shirt stretched tight over his paunch, before talking about his worries about his pension.
The closer you get to the Vouli, the parliament, the more raucous it becomes. Jammed up against the railings, a crowd is clapping and chanting: “Thieves! Thieves!”
There is another mic here, and it’s grabbed by a man wearing a mask of deputy prime minister Theodoros Pangalos: “My friends, we all ate together.” He is quoting the socialist politician, who claimed on TV last year that everyone bore the responsibility for the squandering of public money. Pangalos may have intended his remark as the Greek equivalent of George Osborne’s remark that “We’re all in it together”, but here they’re not having it.”You lying bastard!” They roar back. “You’re so fat you ate the entire supermarket.”
This is an odd alloy of earnestness and pantomime, to be sure, but it’s something else too: Syntagma Square has become the new frontline of the battle against European austerity. And as prime minister George Papandreou battles first to keep his own job, and then to win MPs’ support for the most extreme package of spending cuts, tax rises and privatisations ever faced by any developed country, what happens between this square and the parliament matters for the rest of the eurozone.