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Fine of 200 euros for non-payment of tolls, the movement will continue to "not pay"

11 February 2011 / 11:02:17  GRReporter
4455 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

The huge size the "I do not pay” movement has reached is increasingly commented these days. The protest against toll payments for the roads that are not build yet and for the bad ones was approved by the majority of Greek society at the beginning but its growing into a movement of non-punching public transport tickets made unbelieving not only politicians but ordinary citizens too.

I witnessed a similar incident in the trolley lately. While checking the passengers the ticket-collector came across a young girl who said she had no ticket because she did not want to pay the public transport fare. He wrote down her personal data and informed her that she would have to pay a fine of 60 euros. At that time an old man muttered, "if you do not want to buy a ticket, pay the fine now. You’d better go to Tsipras to pay it for you.”

The “I do not pay” movement became the subject of sharp attacks by politicians and media, especially after a group of youths broke some of the ticket punching devices in one of the underground stations. According to eyewitnesses, they shouted slogans the movement used during its campaigns.

At the same time, the president of the left coalition SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras and MPs from the party attended the last barriers “openings” on the roads throughout the country which made the critics of the movement associate it with a specific political party.

They claim from the “I do not pay” movement that they had nothing to do with any political party.

"The party SYRIZA was silent when we started the organization a year and a half ago. But now, when they see how many people are united and how strong our movement is, they all try to gain political advantage.

We never had, and now we have no relations with any political party. Everyone can have their political or party affiliations, but we disregard them during the meetings and campaigns. We have decided the movement to be for the people, without any interference of political parties neither from the left, nor from the right, nor from the centre of the political spectrum. Things are completely clear.”

Just a day ago the chairman of the far-right party LAOS George Karatzaferis stated that the movement was dangerous for the Greek society because it would lead to anarchy. According to Joseph Papadopoulos, a member of the movement, that was not strange, "because the politicians are accustomed to such things," but "everyone should speak carefully. It is obvious that our movement troubles them, because it is partisan and therefore they try to offend us. Even when "big" journalists invite us to participate in TV shows they invite politicians too to humiliate and slander the movement."

The fact is that there wasn’t so much a passenger response to the free traveling in public transport. Most of the people punch their tickets as usual despite the campaigns of the movement. But why does the movement believe that it is not appropriate the citizens to pay for this service?

The movement believes that "since public transport is defined as a means of mass transportation and people who do not have cars use it everyday, they should not pay for it. This applies to a greater extent to a country governed by a socialist government. When Andreas Papandreou, the father of today's prime minister, first took power in 1981 he had introduced free public transport for workers in early mornings and late afternoons, i.e. when they went and returned from work. This is the point of the definition "means of mass transportation."

All these years the management of public transport companies was stealing their money. The companies were losing not because of the cheap tickets. And now, after cutting the salaries and the pensions, the government unfairly increased the ticket prices by 40%. This makes people angry. That's why our motto is "I do not pay for their crisis." The crisis is the result of their actions, the people are not to be blamed for it. Mismanagement in general and of finances and utility companies has led to the current situation."
 
However, there are skeptics in the ranks of the movement who believe that non-payment of tickets is probably exaggerated a protest. They do not think that the people who do not want to punch tickets are wrong either.

Joseph Papadopoulos was explicit that the people who had broken the ticket punching devices at the University of Athens underground station were not members of the movement. He said that during the meetings a special emphasis was laid on all members not to cause any damage.

On the other hand, he believed that "some others" try to take advantage of the dynamics and the massiveness of the movement, “whether political parties like SYRIZA or LAOS or any other, or bums who walk the streets and want to cause damage. This is a kind of provocation. We have no desire to cause damage. At least for now.
 
I do not really know how we would respond if things change in the future and the country begins to use violence. Anyway, it is very difficult to withhold the crowd. That's why sometimes we use the saying "Vox populi, vox Dei."

According to Joseph Papadopoulos, small and medium entrepreneurs threat for not paying taxes, social securities and any liabilities to the state would fail. "If only a number of people state they would not pay their taxes they will not achieve anything and will only get in trouble. This will work only if held on a large scale by the people. Then we can expect that there may be some effect."

Tags: SocietyEconomyCivil movementTollsPublic transportFaredodgers
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