17 November: Greece braces for large protest rally in Athens

17 November 1973, at the Polytechnic, Athens

16 November 2011, BBC–Greece is bracing for a large rally to mark the anniversary of the student uprising in 1973 that helped bring down the country’s military dictatorship.The march is expected to be joined by protesters against planned austerity measures, which Greece must implement to tackle its growing debt crisis.

Some 7,000 policemen are being deployed in Athens amid fears that the rally may turn violent.

It comes a day after Greece’s interim government won a confidence vote.

The governing coalition of Lucas Papademos had a huge majority – 255 MPs voted in favour, and 38 against.

The technocratic government must approve a new bailout package and commit to reforms in order to secure the next instalment of an international loan.

History repeating?The 17 November demonstration traditionally draws huge crowds in Athens every year.

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos addresses  parliament in Athens 16 November 2011 Lucas Papademos says Greece needs to take bolder steps to tackle the crisis

People march from the polytechnic to the US embassy in protest at US support of the junta, which Washington saw at the time as a buffer against communism.

But this time the march will be more than a commemoration, drawing protests against the cost-cutting Greece is currently pursuing, the BBC’s Mark Lowen in Athens reports.

In 1973, the uprising helped usher in the end of the country’s leadership, and the current government will hope that history will not repeat itself, our correspondent adds.

The government says the austerity measures are essential, although two party leaders within the coalition remain reluctant to sign a document committing themselves to the bailout terms.

They are the leaders of the conservative New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras, and the leader of Greece’s Far Right Laos party, George Karatzaferis.

But both leaders backed the unity government in the vote.

Mr Papademos, an unelected former banker, earlier said his priority was ratifying the international 130bn euro ($177bn; £111bn) bailout package agreed at an EU summit last month.

Speaking before Wednesday’s confidence vote in parliament, Mr Papademos appealed for unity and said Greece needed to take bolder steps to tackle the crisis.

“Dealing with Greece’s problems will be more difficult if Greece is not a member of the eurozone,” he told parliament.

The planned reforms have already triggered widespread protest in Greece.

The crisis led to the resignation last week of the then-Prime Minister George Papandreou.

The unity government is intended to run the country until elections in February.

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