Greece. In the October 4 parliamentary elections, the
Socialist Party PASOK won 43.9 percent of the vote.
party took 160 of the parliament's 300 seats and the new
prime minister became former Foreign Minister Giorgos
Papandreou. Conservative Nea Dimocratia, whose leader, Prime
Minister Kostas Karamanlis, had announced the election in
order to gain a deeper mandate, made his worst choice of all
time with 33.5 percent. The Nationalist Party LAOS (Folk
Orthodox Collection), which profiled itself against
immigration and Turkish EU membership, increased its number
of seats from 10 to 15. The turnout was 71 percent. The
election campaign was characterized by financial issues.
While Karamanlis was advocating for cuts to reduce the
country's budget deficit, Papandreou promised a stimulus
package worth € 3 billion, including from the hunt for tax
The dissatisfaction with the Karamanlis government was
widespread because of the tightening policy, corruption
suspicions against several ministers and the police death of
a boy in Athens in December 2008. The dissatisfaction
sometimes took violent forms. Police, military, banks,
finance companies, media companies, car dealers and other
international companies, especially in Athens, were
subjected to a series of attacks during the winter, spring
and summer. A hitherto unknown group, the Revolutionary Sect
(SE), took responsibility for several of the attacks,
including the assassination of a policeman on June 17 in
Greece's national debt grew to EUR 300 billion in
December, or 113 per cent of GDP. The budget deficit was
about 12.7 percent. The world's three largest credit rating
agencies lowered the country's credit rating, which helped
Parliament decide on major cuts, including social security,
defense spending and public sector salaries. Some tax
increases were also decided. Leftist organizations protested
in large demonstrations.
In July, Kravall police leveled a refugee camp outside
the city of Patras with the ground. The camp, where
paperless immigrants have lived since 1996, had housed 1,800
residents, but most had either been arrested or left the
camp more or less voluntarily in the weeks before the
Shipowner Pericles Panagopoulos was kidnapped in Athens
on January 12 and released eight days later, after his
family reportedly paid a ransom of € 30 million.
Forest fires raged in July and August in the mountains
north of Athens, on parts of the Peloponnese peninsula as
well as on Euboia, Zakynthos and other islands.
The new Acropolis Museum opened June 20 after five years
of delays. The museum, located at the foot of the Acropolis
cliff in Athens, houses 350 objects and sculptures from the
ancient Parthenon Temple.