A huge crowd is in central Athens for Greece’s fifth 48-hour strike. Demonstrators have gathered in front of parliament where a first vote on sweeping new austerity measures is due tonight.
The strike has closed tourist attractions, planes trains and boats, as well as banks, schools and even shops selling everyday basics like bread and milk.
A similar situation in June ended in violence – prompting tourists this time to try to get out early in case it degenerates again.
Tourist, Joe Steel, stranded at Athens airport said:
“I chose to leave a couple of days early and even then it was very difficult getting a flight for Tuesday because of the cancellations Wednesday. And here I am now in Athens and I have three nights here before my flight is actually due and hopefull I will leave.”
Prime Minister George Papandreou, whose socialist PASOK party has a majority of just four, is urging MPs to support the new measures, comparing the country’s situation to a war.
However, convincing the Greek public is a whole different matter. Bin collectors did not even wait until today to begin action – the rubbish is already piling high on the streets.