Simmering public anger heats Europe

Rory Jones talks to protesters in Greece on why they are taking to the streets.

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Mike Nerouppos, 17, is a student who should be in school.

Instead, he is on the streets of Athens outside the Greek Parliament demanding more school books and protesting at increased class sizes.

"We have only 5 per cent of the books we are supposed to have and the level of education here in Greece is falling," he says. "The government cares more about money than students' education."

Mike is one of thousands of Europeans who have taken to the streets this year in protest, usually against austerity measures. Anger is manifesting itself in all manner of ways in this euro crisis, with the most extreme protest so far being the man who set himself on fire in Thessalonika demonstrating against his level of debt.

Others in Greece are protesting by leaving the country.

"I will certainly move away because here we don't work like proper doctors in a hospital," says Olga Vartzioti, 36, a consultant pulmonologist in Athens.

She, like many others, is trying to emigrate and has chosen Australia as the place to build a new life.

"It's a country that is something new for my life and it's not going to have economic problems," she says.

Germany last week voted to back an increase of the euro-zone bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Fund. But the issue for many people across Europe is whether their demands will ever be met. In February, thousands of Italians took to the streets in about 200 cities across the country in protest at the alleged conduct of Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister, towards women.

About 100,000 people were reported to have gathered in Rome on one day, with a further 60,000 in Milan. But the protests did little to change the status quo; Mr Berlusconi is still under investigation, still in power and not expected to resign.

In Athens, many Greeks say they will continue to protest until the austerity measures are reduced. But Manos Panorios, a partner at the recruitment firm Stanton Chase International in Athens, says there is no option for the Greek people but to get on with life.

"The only solution is to do what the IMF says and then get over it," he says. "The government has to do what the IMF tells them to do."