Success of Golden Dawn casts a dark shadow over Greek elections

A record-breaking vote for the extreme-right Golden Dawn party marks a grave shift in the politics of Europe, writes Lucia Osborne-Crowley.

The results of Greece’s federal election last Sunday have given rise to grave concerns about the turbulent political future that awaits both Greece and the rest of the Eurozone. Seemingly torn between several extremes, the Greek people have found themselves facing a hung parliament, with centre right party New Democracy winning 18.9 per cent of the vote and 16.7 per cent going to radical left party Syrizia.

While this is a clear sign of desperate indecision within Greece in the face of continued economic uncertainty, more worrying still is the rise of Greece’s own neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn. The party won seven per cent of the vote on Sunday’s election where in the previous election they had managed only 0.23 per cent. The party’s campaign focused on militant nationalism and extreme anti-immigration sentiment and was symbolised by a logo closely resembling the swastika. With policy proposals that include forcing immigrants into work camps and placing landmines along the Greek/Turkish border, the party will enter the Greek parliament with a total of twenty-one seats.

Golden Dawn’s leader, Nikoloas Michaloliakos, has promised to continue the struggle “for a Greece that will not be a social jungle because of the millions of illegal immigrants they brought into our homeland without asking us”. The leader subsequently adopted a more sinister tone. “For those who betray this homeland, the time has come to fear… we are coming”, he threatened. He went on to warn press that “Greece is only the beginning”.

The unexpected success of such an extreme nationalist party, in a nation where no party of similar political persuasion has won seats in federal parliament since 1974, confirms the dangerously unstable political climate in which Greece now finds itself. Possibly, it signals the beginning of a qualitatively different political crisis altogether. In the wake of unprecedented government debt and fierce ongoing debates surrounding austerity measures, it seems the Greek population have turned their backs on the major parties New Democracy and PASOK in an adamant expression of disillusionment, and consequently votes have bled to the extremes that lie to either side of these parties. This shift away from major parties and towards more extreme political parties that are normally marginalised by the two-party system may have unpredictable consequences for the future of Greece’s economy, the survival of which perpetually hangs in the balance.

This may certainly be seen as a defensive reaction against Greece’s austerity measures, and perhaps Europe’s other nations would be ill advised to pursue this same agenda considering the disturbing consequences that have presented themselves in Greece. Or perhaps this is simply a case of an uncertain economic and political climate encouraging polarised political opinions. It remains to be seen whether Golden Dawn will manage to foster more support among the Greek population or gain any influence in Greek parliament, but it is suddenly all too certain that very grave and fundamental shifts are occurring in the political climates of Greece and the rest of the Eurozone.

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