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Dispatch / March 11, 2012

This article is cross-posted from When the Crisis Hits the Fan

The co-ruling PASOK party had its national conference today. Its goal is to elect the new party leader who will succeed George Papandreou and will lead the Socialists in the coming elections. The candidates are Christos Papoutsis and Evangelos Venizelos. At some point, an old man, member of PASOK himself, approached Venizelos, complained about the cuts in his pension and then threw him a yogurt before being carried out by bodyguards outside the hall.

This is the latest in a series of food throwing that has reemerged during the past two years of the crisis as a means of political protest.

Greek yogurt

Originally, “yogurt throwing” was a means of protest against authority by Greek youngsters in the late 1950s. They were called “Teddy Boys”, a name borrowed from the homonymous British subculture. You see, food throwing was traditionally a form of protest (preferable rotten eggs or tomatoes) but it was only in 1950s when the plastic cup substituted yogurt’s classic ceramic pot, a marketing move that made yogurt a non-lethal weapon. The trend of yogurt-throwing was fiercely fought by the authorities with the legendary “Law 4000/1958″ according to which offenders were arrested, had their heads shaved and paraded through the streets of Athens.

A teddy boy is paraded in the streets of Athens with his head shaved.

The law also inspired a movie (Law 4000). Here’s a great excerpt that needs no subtitles.

The law was withdrawn in 1983, by Andreas Papandreou. In 1997, a builder who was member of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) threw a yogurt on the then Minister of Employment, Miltiadis Papaioannou (now Minister of Justice) and his then Deputy Minister Christos Protopappas (now PASOK’s Parliamentary Group Representative) . The court decided that yogurt throwing was not an offense that had to be tried automatically but only if a lawsuit is filed by the victim.

During the past two years of the Greek crisis, attacks by angry citizens against politicians have become a frequent phenomenon. At the beginning there were verbal attacks, in restaurants and in the streets. Politicians began to walk less freely in the street without bodyguards, especially after Kostis Hatzigakis, a New Democracy MP, was brutally attacked by protesters in December of 2010.

The verbal attacks are still the norm wherever politicians appear in public (e.g. see what happened in the 28th October military parades – btw these days the government had a meeting to assess the security situation in view of the 25th of March Independence Day parades) Soon food throwing reappeared. The most popular “weapons” have been yogurt, eggs and, at times, tomatoes.

According to an article of Eleftherotypia newspaper, written by Georgia Linardou, in 2011 two members of the government and one MP have been attacked with yogurts. Last March, the vice president of the government Theodoros Pangalos was attacked while having dinner at a town just outside Athens. Some months later, Minister of Interior Haris Kastanidis was attacked in a similar fashion while watching “Midnight in Paris” at a cinema in Thessaloniki. Liana Kanelli, an MP with the Communist Party of Greece, has also been attacked with yogurt in June 2011, while she was trying to get through a block of protesters in order to reach the Parliament for the vote on the Mid-Term Program.

As for attacks with eggs, the list is longer, probably thanks to the different characteristics of this sort of food when used as a missile (their position on the day of the attack):

  • Manolis Othonas, Deputy Minister for Citizen Protection
  • Ilias Mosialos, Minister of State
  • Kostas Skandalidis, Deputy Minister of Agriculture
  • Andreas Loverdos, Minister of Health
  • Anna Diamantopoulou, Minister of Education
  • Giorgos Petalotis, Government Spokesman

Also:

  • Asterios Rontoulis, MP with LAOS
  • Dora Bakoyanis, Democratic Alliance party leader
  • Spiros Taliadouros, MP with New Democracy

In 2010 Alekos Alavanos was also attacked, with yogurts, during SYRIZA’s campaign for that year’s local elections.

Many politicians have criticized this form of protest. KKE’s leader, Aleka Papariga, has said that yogurt-throwers are people who have voted for PASOK or New Democracy and that the act itself is not some particular act of resistance but rather a bourgeois reaction that defuses the social discontent. Deputy Minister of Regional Development, Sokratis Xinidis, preferred some self-criticism when he said “The time has come for all of us to pay the price. I am ready to be thrown a yogurt…”

There’s a great article about the presence of food in Greek politics. It’s called “Bread, Milk, and the Greek Parliamentary Record” and is written by Leo Vournelis, here. Another interesting aspect can be read in “Eating in Times of Financial Crisis” also hosted on the website of the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition.

Finally, let me remind the readers of a historical recurrence. This is the second time that Evangelos Venizelos is trying to win the leadership of PASOK. The first time was back in 2007, in a mutiny-styled manoeuvre when he appeared as a candidate practically on the same night his party, then led by George Papandreou, lost the elections. In the following days few cared about the newly elected government – the top story was what was happening inside PASOK. In those polarized (for PASOK supporters) times, another party member threw a coffee on Venizelos while he was entering the party offices.

What I still remember from that video is Venizelos’ reaction. See at 1:33 for a better a view of it. Scary isn’t it?

UPDATE: Another interesting read is “The Dangers of Yoghurtification as a Political Movement in Greece“.

Kostas Kallergis is freelance journalist from Athens who runs the blog When the Crisis Hits the Fan

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16 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. DrunktankDan  |  March 11th, 2012 at 6:09 pm

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  • 2. Urda  |  March 11th, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Uh Greeks are going to find that wasting food by throwing it at these bozos,might not be the best investment they could make.

    Otherwise if they’re smart,they will vote for anyone but the ruling parties because at this moment these guys deserve to be kicked to the streets along with getting yogurt their way.

  • 3. Yogurt Economy  |  March 11th, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    I’m with urda. We can’t have any more waste in Greece. I’m with Urda, I count Greece’s yougurt consumption by the ML, because Greece needs to watch its spending. Urda understands that politics can’t be conducted through yogurt. It has to be conducted through “anyone but the ruling parties” — no way around it. Urda. Urda! Wait, at the end of my comment, just like Urda, I’m going to suggest that yogurt gets in the bad guys’ way.

  • 4. vortexgods  |  March 11th, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    These people are treating their leaders much better than traitor collaborators are usually treated.

    Yogurt? Quisling would have loved it if he had just got some yogurt thrown at him.

  • 5. Numerius Negidius  |  March 12th, 2012 at 2:59 am

    I have a better idea. First, you go to a stables, and bribe the relevant personnel there with the yogurt…you with me so far?

  • 6. Big Gay Baby  |  March 12th, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Southern Europeans are not behaving like Americans would: quiet, self-loathing, obedient, taking whatever their masters dish out. That’s really all there is to say.

  • 7. Jesus  |  March 12th, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I´d be pissed if someone threw a yogurt at me while I´m watching One Night in Paris…

  • 8. Anarchy Pony  |  March 12th, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I think #5 is on to something there.

  • 9. Alexei Belyaev-Gintovt  |  March 12th, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    yeah yeah ejerkulate the horses, slabes of mankind

    slabes of mankind and slabes of banker-faschos will empty entire attican cattle scrotums onto fascho faces

    ♬ splish splash i wuz taken a bath dunnananan ♬

  • 10. Alexei Belyaev-Gintovt  |  March 12th, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    now thats a facial we can all ejerkulate too

  • 11. Big Gay Baby  |  March 12th, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    me “libertard”, but you know I won’t admit it.
    Looking forward to the improvement of this one.

  • 12. manure manoeuvre  |  March 12th, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    In support of #5 and #8 …

  • 13. Letov  |  March 12th, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    In favor of #9.

  • 14. Alexei Belyaev-Gintovt  |  March 12th, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    INTRODUCTION

    A number of methods, including condom, vaginal sponge and artificial vagina, have been employed for collection of semen from stallions (1). Currently, the most widely recommended technique is the artificial vagina with a mare or dummy mount. Successful collection of semen using an artificial vagina with the stallion standing on the ground was recently reported (2). Since 1965, we have employed an even simpler method of collecting semen from the stallion using manual stimulation of the penis, and holding a disposable plastic bag over the end of the penis to catch the ejaculate. This technique gradually evolved during our first year of implementing artificial breeding on a small, remote farm, where semen collection equipment was not readily obtainable. Initially, we attempted to fashion a home-made Mississippi style artificial vagina (3) using a latex rubber tube occluded at one end by two sticks and foam rubber padding. While manipulating this flimsy device, we found that manual pressure applied to the penis elicited pelvic thrusting and ejaculation, even before the stallion mounted the mare. Accordingly, we proceeded to collect semen from stallions by manual stimulation and by substituting a plastic bag for the artificial vagina. We continued to use this method and it remains our preferred technique for obtaining semen for our artificial insemination and semen freezing programs.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS

    Plastic bags of various sizes are successfully employed. A bag should extend 8 to 12 in. up the shaft of the penis and be large enough for the glans penis to fully engorge. It is important to use a bag made of material which is not toxic to sperm. We presently use 6″ x 10″ polyethylene (1.5 mil) bags (Bel-Art Products, Pequannock, NJ). In addition to the bag, we use a 500-ml plastic squeeze bottle filled with warm water (48 to 52 C), which is used to wash the penis and to warm the hand of the operator before manipulation.

    The stallions is stimulated to achieve an erection, but is not allowed to mount. Some horses will respond adequately to a mare or gelding presented at a distance, or a brief glimpse of a mare or gelding walking past a doorway; others respond adequately to a dummy mare; still others will respond in their stalls to the operator rubbing the horse’s chest, abdomen, flank or thigh. We have also used an in vitro olfactory stimulus (the urine of an estrous mare presented on a paper towel) to arouse a stallion for collection of semen. This stimulus seems to work particularly well with young, inexperienced stallions. We have found that intensely aroused stallions often fail to respond favorably to manipulation. Therefore, our aim is generally to present the least amount of stimulation to achieve and maintain erection.

    When erection is achieved, the penis is rinsed with warm water from the squeeze bottle. This usually elicits some engorgement of the glans penis as well as shallow pelvic thrusting. The plastic bag is then placed over the shaft of the penis and secured with one hand placed proximally to to the preputial ring. The other hand is placed over the glans penis with the thumb behind the corona, as shown in figure 1. [Figure deleted here, unfortunately]. While applying firm pressure, the shaft and glans are gently manipulated in a rhythmic fashion until the horse reponds with pelvic thrusting. As the horse thrusts forward, the hands follow the thrusting motion. Steady pressure is maintained on the shaft. Simultaneously, the glans is rhythmically massaged with rotation motion, with the thumb massaging the firm protuberance of the corpus cavernosum penis into the glans penis. During initial training of a stallion, the position of the hands as well as the rhythm and strength of the pressure applied on the shaft and glans are varied depending on the response of the stallion, with the goal of inducing deep pelvic thrusts and engorgement of the glans characteristic of normal copulatory response. The stallion must be allowed freedom to lower the head when thrusting. Ejaculatory pulses are easily palpated and visualized. Premature release of pressure seems to interrupt ejaculation in some stallions. In fact, a sperm rich portion of the ejaculate may be obtained by releasing manual pressure after one or two urethral pulses

  • 15. John Blacksad  |  March 14th, 2012 at 11:38 am

    “KKE’s leader, Aleka Papariga, has said that yogurt-throwers are people who have voted for PASOK or New Democracy and that the act itself is not some particular act of resistance but rather a bourgeois reaction that defuses the social discontent”

    What the fuck ?!
    the most stupid thing to say about it

  • 16. christos  |  March 16th, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    vanity fair agrees.


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