Golden Dawn & Greek ultra-nationalism (in summary)

EuroIn February I gave an account of how Greek ultra-nationalist party Golden Dawn had managed make significant gains.

This post summarises the main points.

Golden Dawn, a party many have labeled as fascist and neo-Nazi, was all but irrelevant four years ago. Now they are polling in third place, with increasing influence in Greece, both socially and politically.

There’s a lot of anger in Greece. Anger at their treatment by the troika and the IMF and at the perceived apathy, stereotyping and scapegoating that other EU countries have displayed towards Greece during the Eurozone Crisis.  

Golden Dawn have shifted the focus onto immigration in Greece.

They have been rewarded by a surge in support for various reasons:

  1. Far-right parties in Europe have become very successful at retaining political focus on immigration. They have managed to reinvent themselves as a solution to the perceived problems of immigration. The rhetoric used boils down to immigrants diluting and depleting the sovereign country’s identity and resources. Many have reinvented themselves as protest parties, feeding off voter discontent with mainstream politics.
  1. The austerity measures are bleeding Greece dry and causing mass desperation. Since the political parties have their hands tied, while largely being blamed by many Greeks for causing the crisis in the first place, this has caused huge disillusionment with established politics in Greece.
  1. There’s a high immigrant population in Greece, particularly in Athens. Many immigrants move to Greece because they see it as a gateway to Europe.

Golden Dawn’s Public Image

The party are becoming steadily more competent at their nationalistic PR campaign, which cultivates the image that ‘we look after our own’. At the same time, their violence towards immigrants in Athens is growing.

As a reaction to sense of international humiliation Greece feels, the mainstream media has ‘adopted’ Golden Dawn because of its emphasis on renewing national pride.

Ties with the Greek Police

There are increasing reports of Greek police being lenient or sympathetic to Golden Dawn’s politics, going so far as to support the members’ violence towards immigrants. This is somewhat due to nostalgia of junta-rule in the 1960s and 70s, but also because many in the police consider they are fighting a war on two fronts: (1) the high crime rates from immigrants, and (2) the anarchist groups at the other end of the political extreme protesting against austerity.

Greek youths have had a been at odds with the police for years. The shooting of a 15-year-old by police in Athens in 2008 caused mass riots, which were a precursor to anarchist-led violence in recent austerity protests.

At a time when they’re over-stretched, facing further pay-cuts and being constantly chastised, desperation has lead many in the Greek police to the reasoning that ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. This is where Golden Dawn comes in.

What Next?

Golden Dawn are no longer a fringe party.

While it’s unlikely that they will be elected to Parliament,  the ultra-nationalists are finding increasing support and sway. There is real potential in for Golden Dawn to impact future Greek politics, and influence the outcome of the Eurozone.

Comments

If anyone has an interest in, or would like further information on, Greece, Golden Dawn and the Eurozone crisis, feel free to leave a comment or get in touch. I’d love to hear from people who are familiar with this subject, particularly those living in Greece.

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