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The return of street politics?: essays on the December riots in Greece

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In December 2008, following the shooting of teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos, a wave of demonstrations and violent protest rocked Athens and quickly spread to other Greek cities. The initial demonstrations and outbreak of violence were directly linked to the death of the high school youth and were aimed against alleged police incompetence and brutality. The scope of the movement soon broadened to encompass protest against youth unemployment, social inequality, corruption, state inadequacy, higher education reforms and other perceived grievances. The decision to police the demonstration and violent protest in a 'hands off ' manner exacerbated the impact of the events and allowed free rein to vandals and looters. The 'December events', and especially the scale of the violence, took many by surprise. Initial reactions and analyses struggled to explain the scope and timing of the events. The causes and consequences of the December riots in Greece need to be properly understood in Greece's domestic and international context. As a way of initiating a broad and open discussion, the Hellenic Observatory of LSE has commissioned a series of short papers from a range of scholars, analysts and commentators. These papers published here offer a wide range of explanations and diverse interpretations of the cause of the riots and their impact. We hope that these papers will open a coherent, longer-term discussion on the events, which could have an impact on policy and allow us to tackle some key problems in contemporary Greek society.

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