About 15,000 Greeks gathered outside parliament in Athens on Wednesday chanting “Thieves! Thieves!”, fired up by Spanish demonstrators urging them to join protests against austerity.
Organised through Facebook, protesters booed and waved banners with slogans including “Out with the IMF junta” in the first, major non-political rally since Greece’s debt crisis.
The protest was also a response to a banner unfolded during an anti-austerity demonstration in Spain this week, calling on Greeks to “wake up” and protest against belt-tightening.
Thousands of Spaniards filled squares and camped out across the country to protest against government austerity measures before regional elections on Sunday when ruling Socialists got a fierce drubbing in local elections.
The Greeks, organised through a Facebook group, answered with a banner reading “We are awake! What time is it? It’s time for them to go”.
“It made us angry that the Spaniards said Greeks are asleep,” said protester Elsa Karanikola, 45, a housewife. “It’s time to wake up, things can’t go on like this.”
A mix of all ages, from mothers holding children to elderly people leaning on canes, flowed into the central Syndagma square to join the noisy protest, while a line of police in full riot gear lined in front of parliament.
The Facebook group named “Angry at Syndagma” drew more than 30,000 members in just a few days. Similar rallies drew thousands in the northern city of Thessalonoki and the western port city of Patras.
On Monday, Greece’s Socialist government announced a series of privatisations and said it would take additional austerity measures to beat the crisis.