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Greece Plunges into Turmoil After Austerity Vote

February 13, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
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TRANSCRIPT

JEFFREY BROWN: And we turn to the turmoil in Greece, and still no sure thing that Europe has solved its debt crisis.

We begin in Athens with a report from James Mates of Independent Television News.

JAMES MATES: The morning after a particularly violent night before. Even for a city that is well used to street protests and angry confrontations, the burning of 48 buildings, the looting of 150 more was something different.

These scenes last night in a major European capital were enough to make even the most optimistic fear for where we’re heading, 100,000 on the streets and a hard-core so angry they struck out indiscriminately.

In parliament, M.P.s were voting as they had been ordered to by the Eurozone, but in doing so, the Greek body politic appeared to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown. One in six M.P.s were expelled from their parties last night. Two years ago, Greek conservatives were expelled after voting for austerity. Last night, they were chucked out for voting against it, and this the party likely to form the next government here.

ELENA PANARITIS, Greek politician: They don’t want more austerity measures. That’s pretty much the end of it. That’s the bottom line. They have had seven austerity packages. I think they’ve had enough. And I understand them. You know, I believe that they’ve had enough.

JAMES MATES: Athenians surveying the damage today could only agree and found few grounds for optimism.

Is there worse to come? Is there?

WOMAN: I think so. I think this is not the end of it. And the whole Greek society right now is rather numb.

MAN: How worse can it get? I think then it’s going to be like World War III.

JAMES MATES: Do you think that there might be worse to come?

WOMAN: Obviously, in three months, we will be here and we will see the same happening again.

JAMES MATES: Even after they withstood all of this in order to get their austerity package through, there are still voices in Europe who are asking whether the Greeks can be trusted, whether they have done enough, whether they should get their bailout money.

Without that money, Greece is bankrupt, and all bets are off. And, as last night proved, that will put us into very dangerous territory.