December 8, 2009 / 3:49 PM / in 8 years

TIMELINE-Ratings agencies pile pain on riot-hit Greece

Dec 8 (Reuters) - Ratings agency Fitch downgraded Greece’s debt on Tuesday, driving its bonds, bank shares and the euro lower in the latest blow to the troubled euro zone country as it struggles with youth riots.

Bank stocks extended the previous day’s losses on a Standard & Poor’s report they faced the highest risks in western Europe.

Here is a timeline of events in Greece in the last year.

Oct. 2008 - Hundreds of pilots, dock workers, and employees at other public companies march on parliament chanting “Elections now!” before a vote to permit the privatisation of Olympic and other state-owned firms.

-- The government, which launched a tender to sell off Olympic, has its tenuous grip on parliament weakened when Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis dismisses a rebel deputy, cutting its support base to 151 seats in the 300-member house. Dec. 2008 - A police officer shoots dead 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos, in central Athens. Riots spread across Greece causing damage worth hundreds of million of euros.

-- A general strike starts as thousands march on parliament in protest at high youth unemployment. The opposition socialist party calls for elections.

Jan. 2009 - Gunmen linked to Greece’s most militant guerrillas, the left-wing Revolutionary Struggle group, shoot and seriously wound a policeman in Athens.

-- Karamanlis dismisses finance minister George Alogoskoufis, whose tax rises and privatisation policy have angered many ordinary Greeks.

Feb. 2009 - Karamanlis rules out an early election and says his ruling New Democracy party’s priority is dealing with the impact of the global economic downturn. April 2009 - Thousands of Greeks join a nationwide 24-hour strike to protest against the government’s response to the economic crisis, disrupting transport and services.

May 9, 2009 - The conservative government shuts down parliament early, prompting protests from opposition parties which say the move is aimed at dismissing investigations into a series of scandals.

Aug. 2009 - Around 10,000 people are evacuated from their homes as wildfires sweep the country, reaching the outskirts of Athens and destroying thousands of hectares of forest.

Sept. 2009 - Karamanlis calls early elections, seeking a new mandate to deal with the economic crisis. The government is dragged down by discontent with a sharp economic slowdown, scandals, the worst riots in decades and its handling of the fires.

Oct. 2009 - A snap election on Oct. 4 returns George Papandreou’s socialist PASOK party to power with a comfortable majority. It will hold 160 seats in the 300-seat parliament. Karamanlis resigns as party leader. The new government discloses that the 2009 budget deficit will be 12.7 percent, more than double the previously announced figure.

Nov. 2009 - The new government pledges in its 2010 draft budget to save the country from bankruptcy by cutting the deficit while keeping electoral promises to help the poor amid the economic crisis. The final budget draft is submitted on Nov. 20 and is due for adoption on Dec 23.

-- Greece will aim to cut its budget deficit to 9.1 percent of GDP in 2010 to assure EU partners and markets it is serious about restoring fiscal health, its final 2010 budget draft shows. Dec. 2009 - Police fire teargas to disperse rioting protesters as thousands march in Athens on Dec. 6 to mark the police killing of a teenager.

-- S&P on Dec. 8 puts the country’s A- sovereign rating on negative watch. Fitch Ratings, which had cut Greece to A- when the government revealed the higher deficit, cuts Greek debt to BBB+ with a negative outlook.

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