Tens of thousands of people gathered in central Athens on Sunday to support the newly elected government’s push for a better deal on Greece’s debt. Similar rallies were held in several other Greek cities, and about 40 other anti-austerity demonstrations were planned to show solidarity across Europe and in Australia, Brazil and the United States.
The rallies came on the eve of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers that will address Greece’s unpopular bailout.
In Lisbon about 300 people took to the streets with banners reading “Greece, Spain, Portugal, our battle is international.”
In Athens, between 15,000 and 18,000 protesters carried banners denouncing economic austerity and Greece’s creditors.
“We want justice here and now … for all the suffering Greece has gone through the past five years,” 58-year-old Theodora, who has been unemployed for the last three years, told Agence France-Presse.
A protester wearing a mask of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and wielding a large plastic needle with “austerity” daubed on it jousted with a fake Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras, armed with a huge pair of red scissors.
The Greek government has enthusiastically welcomed these rallies while insisting that they are spontaneous affairs, organized through social media.
On Monday, a gathering of Eurozone finance ministers will consider Greece’s proposal for short-term “bridge financing,” without the onerous terms previously imposed on the country, until a longer-term solution to Greece’s crushing debt is found.
So-called technical-level talks with creditor representatives ended Saturday, Greek officials said.