© Pedro Armestre/AFP/Getty Images
People protest in Madrid in 2011 against Spain's economic crisis and its sky-high jobless rate. ‘The frustration cannot find an outlet in mainstream parties, which strike many young people as far too timid
In December 2008, in Athens, a "special security officer" shot dead a young student
, igniting demonstrations, strikes and riots. Young people were at the forefront of the protests, in a country with a long tradition of youth participation in social and political movements. Several commentators at the time spoke of a "youth rebellion".
In late 2009 it became clear that Greece had been living through a period of false prosperity and was in effect bankrupt. The country fell into the tender embrace of the troika - the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank. Following severe austerity measures in 2010-11, there were again mass demonstrations and strikes
, culminating in the "movement of the squares" - protests against the destruction of private and social life. Young people were again prominent, lending enthusiasm and spirit to the movement.
Then there was nothing. As economic and social disaster unfolded in 2012 and 2013, the youth of Greece became invisible in social and economic life. The young have been largely absent from politics, social movements and even from the spontaneous social networks that have dealt with the worst of the catastrophe. On the fifth anniversary of the events of 2008, barely a few hundred young people demonstrated in Greek urban centres. There was no tension, no passion, no spirit, just tired processions repeating well-known slogans. Where were the 17-year-olds from five years ago?