MPs react to protesters’ wrath
Greece’s politicians criticized overzealous demonstrators and warned their colleagues that they are out of touch with average citizens in reaction to unprecedented scenes late on Tuesday night when protesters prevented MPs from leaving Parliament until a police escort arrived.
“Such incidents are dangerous for our democracy,” said Parliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos. “History has shown that a climate of acrossthe-board rejection of parliamentary democracy has had tragic consequences wherever it has been expressed.”
Dozens of demonstrators who broke off from the main body of Indignant protesters in front of Parliament late on Tuesday blocked the side entrance to the House from where MPs and their staff were due to leave. They were eventually forced back by riot police. Some demonstrators spat or threw objects at the politicians. PASOK deputy Christos Protopappas said that one protester bared his genitals.
It was the first time that any real tension surfaced since the so-called Indignant protesters began their daily rallies in front of Parliament last Tuesday. The protests have been peaceful and riot police have not had to intervene before.
“I accept the existence of the Indignant movement and I understand that it is not a threat to democracy, but violence and harassment is a threat and I condemn it,” Deputy Education Minister Evi Christofilopoulou told Skai TV. “Many of the MPs are new to Parliament and it does not help to tar them all with the same brush.”
New Democracy’s parliamentary spokesman, Costas Markopoulos, suggested the incident was an indictment of the government rather than the political system. “The PASOK government will be brought to its knees by people’s reactions.”
Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) deputy Panayiotis Lafazanis said that MPs should take heed of public sentiment. “At times like these, Parliament cannot live in its own world and not realize what is happening around it,” he said. “Some people in this House cannot go on behaving like they are on the Titanic shortly before it hits the iceberg.”
Protesters returned to Syntagma Square for an eighth consecutive day yesterday.