In the aftermath, municipal workers were sweeping up broken glass while Greek political leaders were surveying the damage to their parties following the expulsion of dozens of lawmakers from their parties, after the legislators had broken ranks ahead of early national elections. On Monday, the government spokesman, Pantelis Kapsis, said the elections would be held in April.
About 150 stores were vandalized and looted, and about 45 buildings — including neo-Classical structures, two historic movie theaters, banks and cafes — were seriously burned, many beyond repair, according to the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The chamber estimated losses in the “tens of millions” of dollars. The public order minister, Christos Papoutsis, called the damage part of “an organized plan of arson and looting.”
More than 80,000 people came out to protest peacefully on Sunday, before scores of violent hooded protesters hijacked the demonstration. A spokesman for the Athens police said Monday that 74 people had been arrested and 92 others briefly detained, after scores of violent protesters scuffled with police and hurled gasoline bombs into buildings.
The spokesman said that 104 police officers had been injured in the riots, but gave no injury figures for demonstrators, though the ambulance service said there had been dozens.
As he stood in a smoldering shopping arcade, Dimitris Arvanitis, 56, a doorman, described how rioters tore open the steel shutters of shops and threw in a series of gasoline bombs. “It felt like war,” he said. “I could not believe I was in Athens. I have never seen this in my almost 60 years of life, and I have been working here all my life.”
The riots provided an ominous backdrop to the Parliament’s passage of measures expected to unlock the first installment of a $170 billion rescue package from Greece’s so-called troika of lenders: the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. Greece needs the money to prevent default when a bond comes due in March. The group is also expected to move ahead with a broader deal to write down as much as 70 percent of privately held Greek debt.
While euro zone finance ministers are expected to accept the measures and give a provisional green light for the bailout to proceed, a host of technical, legal and political problems remain for a plan that is popular neither in Greece nor in its creditor nations.
Speaking in Brussels on Monday, Olli Rehn, the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, described the Greek Parliament’s passage of the measures as “a crucial step further” and said he was confident that Greece would meet the troika’s remaining demands, including finding an additional $430 million in savings.
European leaders are also asking for guarantees for the bailout measures from Greek political leaders, including Antonis Samaras, the leader of the conservative New Democracy Party, which is widely expected to win the next elections.
But Mr. Samaras worried Greece’s lenders when in a speech before Parliament on Sunday, he urged his deputies to pass the measures so Greece could keep using the euro and have “the possibility tomorrow to negotiate and change the policy that is being imposed upon us today.”
It also was not clear how Greece’s lenders could expect commitments that Greek leaders honor the terms of the bailout when the leading parties in the governing coalition of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos were falling apart after Monday’s vote on the unpopular measures.
Last week, the smallest party in his coalition, the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally, withdrew after its leader said Greece did not want to live under a “German jackboot.” Meanwhile, the Socialists, who are plummeting in the polls, lost 22 members of Parliament on Sunday. New Democracy, which lost 21 members, is also suffering, while far-left and ultraright parties are gaining popularity in the polls.
Those expelled from their parties can keep their Parliament seats as independents, or they can give up their seats. Many may join rival parties or even seek to form new parties.
In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the measures. “I think that the bundle of measures make it clear that it is not just about saving, but about structural reforms,” she said.
Niki Kitsantonis reported from Athens, and Rachel Donadio from Rome. Dimitris Bounias contributed reporting from Athens, Stephen Castle from Brussels, and Melissa Eddy from Berlin.