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Europe

Greek Riots Take Toll on Karamanlis' Government

Greece's government is under fire for how it has handled over a week of violent riots that ensued when a teenage boy was killed in a police shooting. The prime minister, however, has refused to step down.

A protester shouts at riot police in central Athens on Dec. 9, 2008

Many Greeks have said they're unhappy with their government

The leader of Greece's socialist opposition party renewed calls on Sunday, Dec. 14, for conservative Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to resign in light of the protests that have caused an estimated 200 million euros ($265 million) in damage.

Georges Papandreou said at a party conference that Karamanlis' government "ignores the calls of society, is incapable of steadily driving the country towards change and is afraid of the people."

Rioting began after a 15-year-old boy was killed by a police bullet on Dec. 6. Though the violence has generally subsided over the past few days, groups of hooded youths have continued to firebomb buildings and businesses in night-time rampages.

Violence erupted again over the weekend as vigils were held to mark the week after the boy's death. Protestors announced rallies on Monday as well.

Widespread dissatisfaction

Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis

Karamanlis has said Greece needs a steady hand to deal with the economic crisis

In an opinion poll published on Sunday by Greece's Ethnos newspaper, 83.3 percent of respondents said they were unhappy with the government's response to the violence.

According to another survey in the Kathimerini daily, 68 percent disapproved of the government, with 60 percent saying the riots were a social uprising and not the work of fringe groups.

"I'm tired of coming to the shop every night to check the damages," Anna Pavlidou, manager of an Athens mobile phone store, told Reuters news agency. "The government should assume its responsibilities and resign…. Someone has to understand the deeper reasons for this -- poverty, high unemployment -- and solve it radically."

Karamanlis, whose party maintains only a one-seat majority in parliament, said last week that he has no intention of resigning.

"Greece currently has a strong government," he told reporters from a European Union summit in Brussels.

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