Home Greek news Politics Shock to Democracy: Nazi-Friendly Party Golden Dawn Enters Greek Parliament

Shock to Democracy: Nazi-Friendly Party Golden Dawn Enters Greek Parliament

Golden Dawn's logo is similar to the swastiga

Extremist-right party Golden Dawn, whose logo is reminiscent of a swastika, gathered enough votes to win almost 20 seats in the Greek parliament. The results of Greece’s May 6 election have shocked the Greek political scene, but the biggest shock comes from the far-right Golden Dawn that gathered about 7% of the vote.

“The touch of the cat” is the name of the admittedly effective tactic followed by Greece’s most extremist party. Just like cats detect their prey walking on their toes, Golden Dawn quietly observed Greek voters becoming more and more vulnerable, and then they attacked them.

Founded in the early 1980s by backers of the junta that governed Greece from 1967 to 1974, Golden Dawn has always embraced a neo-Nazi ideology. Its symbol looks like the swastika, and copies of “Mein Kampf,” and books on the racial superiority of the Greeks are on prominent display in its Athens headquarters. In the past, not many Greeks took Golden Dawn seriously, but the May 6 national elections showed Golden Dawn surpassing the 3 percent threshold needed to enter Parliament.

Right after the initial results of the election, leader of the Golden Dawn – Nikolaos Michaloliakos - held a press conference. During the conference and before Michaloliakos entered the room, his party’s officials asked the journalists to stand up as an ovation to their leader. When a journalist refused to stand, they forced her outside of the room. Greek Politicians are afraid that Golden Dawn will show similar improper behavior in the Greek parliament. See the video from the incident below:

The New Face

Golden Dawn’s prey – aka desperate, cash-stripped Greek voters – don’t even realized what has changed. But for some reason, Golden Dawn suddenly appears “a bit more normal” than what it used to be. Their ballots included ordinary, low key people, not the usual hard core fascists. And instead of talking about Nazi fascism, Golden Dawn candidates talk about the ordinary people and their daily sufferings due to the crisis. They are worried about the cuts in pensions and salaries, about the schools and the hospitals that are being merged. Michalioliakos, the general secretary of Golden Dawn, transformed his party from a collection of street fighters into a political party.

“This is our party’s program, for a clean Greece, only for Greeks, a safe Greece,” says Ilias Panagiotaros, the group’s spokesman and a candidate for office.

In the pre-crisis times, the majority of Greeks would make fun of him. Yet those living in downtown Athens have been so badly hit by the crime coming from illegal immigrants that they may have voted of him.

Almost all European far-right parties have come up with the same toxic cocktail. The Dutch MP Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigrant Freedom party, has compared the Qur’an to Mein Kampf. In Tel Aviv in 2010, he declared that “Islam threatens not only Israel, Islam threatens the whole world. If Jerusalem falls today, Athens and Rome, Amsterdam and Paris will fall tomorrow.”

Right after he realized there is a chance he would enter the Greek parliament, Michalioliakos reinvented his party’s image, disassociated himself and almost denied his extremist past, the Nazi symbols, the praise to Hitler and stopped hunting immigrants around St. Paneleimonas square in central Athens (he’s probably going to continue his hobby after the elections).

Those who know say that Michalioliakos used all his talent and manipulating strategies, and very skillfully prepared the ballots so that he could mislead the voters who won’t even realize what exactly they’re voting for. So, while everyone waited after continuous information that not much would change in Golden Dawn’s ballots, and the majority of candidates would mostly be retired army officers, ultimately only a handful were actually included. Instead of including the usual fascist suspects, Michalioliakos decided to open the doors to unsuspected Athenians, who have no clue about his party’s past. The majority of his candidates have no party activity, no fascist past. They are taxi drivers, fishermen, security guards, farmers, bank employees a couple of journalists and municipal staff. And for those left that have some sort of a blurry past, he refuses to answer as to how they ended up in the ballots. “I do not know all the candidates, or how they ended up being included in the lists,” he says.

The Right Timing

Golden Dawn has been running in national elections since 1994 with no luck. In 2010 however, in the beginning of the crisis, its leader Nikos Michaloliakos was elected to the Athens City Council. In one of his interviews, Michaloliakos called the group “national socialists” and said the party’s main concern was the crime and the financial crisis. But opportunistic words of caring for Greeks cannot disguise the Greek far right’s toxic rhetoric of hatred.

What Michalioliakos did is pretty clear. He seized the opportunity, and in the wildest capitalist crisis Greece has ever experienced, with Greeks killing themselves as they never did before, and children fainting out of starvation at schools, he smelled the desperation, camouflaged himself and his party and presents himself as the new savior. In fact, Michalioliakos’ group has been campaigning on the streets, something that PASOK and ND politicians have avoided for fear of angry reactions by voters who blame them for Greece’s economic collapse.

The elections results showed the party is blooming where the Greek state seems absent, the most dangerous sign of how the economic downfall has strengthened extremist groups while destroying the political mainstream, a situation that some Greek news outlets have begun paralleling to Weimar Germany.

Neo-Nazi But Anti-German

Golden Dawn is a paradox in itself. While it is clearly still comfortable with neo-Nazi ideology, it has also started developing a Greek nationalist sentiment, which is now anti-German. “We hate Germany, because it is still the leader of the banksters and the European Union,” Michaloliakos, said, using a derogatory term for bankers. Michalioliakos fiercely opposes Greece’s agreement with its foreign lenders and says that the country’s political leadership is too beholden to “international bankers.”

Both the socialists and the conservatives warn of the dangers of extremism. Evangelos Venizelos, who is running in the national elections as Socialist Party leader, warned that “Parliament cannot become a place for those nostalgic for fascism and Nazism.” Golden Dawn is nostalgic for both. And sadly, given the current polls, the Greek parliament will provide a place for Michalioliakos and his nostalgic fascists, just like the French did with Ms. Lepen, who appears to be the big winner in the French elections. From Greece to France far right parties capitalise on immigration and eurozone fears. They have the perfect recipe: from one side they are deeply conservative and talk about the old, white, illiberal, homogeneous nation states of Europe with no immigrants. On the other side they tend to be anything but right wing. They are further to the left of European social democracy in supporting generous welfare states, high salaries, pensions, and early retirement ages. And as the eurozone crisis drags on and things get worse and worse for ordinary people, the far right will be getting higher and higher percentages. One thing is clear: the situation with sundry extremists, racists, neo-Nazis, or simply deep conservatives in Hungary, Sweden, Finland, Greece, France and so on, should give Brussels some food for thought.

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  • PL45

     Why is this shocking?  All of the European countries have so called far right parties.  France has National Front, UK has BNP, Germany NPD etc etc.
    Only thing shocking is that Greece gets  singled out. 

  • Konstantinos Farmakis

    Golden Dawn’s logo have nothing to do with swastiga ????

    google  =======   greek meander  !!

  • GGG65

    Καλημέρα στο “Bourdello Republic of Greece”. Greece will never be Greece. The country is in a real mess, nothing was working before and nothing will ever work. Better off to transform it to a “Red Light Zone” and politicians be Greece’s Guest relation Managers, hosts and escorts.

  • DimitrisA

    If someone reads their positions, one of them states clearly that all Greeks working/living abroad(automatically meaning that they serve foreign interests and therefore hostile) should be considered as traitors and hence should not be allowed to return or be citizens of Greece.

    The entire Hellenic diaspora should condemn the election of those nazi sympathizers to the Greek parliament.

  • HELLENIC HELLAS

    For once Greece is represented by a real patriot… Since 1974 we have been dealing with traitors and American whores such as Papandreou. Now we can have someone in our Parliament defending what is in real danger: our very home-land. Golden Dawn loves Greece and Greeks first and foremost, stop campaigning against it, you just make it stronger…(that’s not bad). It’s a democratically elected party and by accusing it YOU accuse hundred millions of your compatriots. I am said to be a humanist, I help everyone I now, I am a UNICEF and WWF supporter and yet I voted for Golden Dawn… Just because I want not to be afraid to walk down Athens, just because I want Greek businesses to have Greek employees at first and then OK Immigrants too. “A car fits 5 persons…. If 500 try to get in, it will just break down…Am I wrong?I don;t want any illegal immigrant harmed, just away from my cities, awat from my homeland. And for the record Golden Dawn never accused Greeks of diaspora, they know these people were forced to go away despite their wish just because PASOk and ND had found jobs for their whores and there was nothing left for them. Golden Dawn has to do with beign patriot and wanting Greece purer. Thank you

    (Feel free to disagree but if there is any dissency just use appropriate vocabulary)
    Thank you

  • HELLENIC HELLAS

    I understand many of you don’t speak German (referring to the article writer). You seem surprised by the fact that Golden Dawn members are described as neo-nazis but anti-German on the same time. The word “nazi” comes from the German word for nation (die Nazion) so by calling them nazis you just say they love their country like hell. They are anti-German because they demand that Greece be self-determined. Where is your Hellenism? Got lost in the way?

  • GGG65

    As I said its a “Bourdellocratia” and not “Democratia” and for once be honest and say the truth that Greece is a big “Bourdello”.

  • Stavros44

    “Greeks killing themselves as they never did before, and children fainting out of starvation at schools”.

    Well, shouldn’t the politicians who are responsible for this be attacked? But instead you are insulting the ones who are trying to help the people and create a better society?! You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Mark

    Thugs….blame the immigrants when things go south…typical. When people stop looking for real solutions that is when Nazism shows up (call it what you will!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sean-Dion/100001763278600 Sean Dion

    Whats interesting is that the symbol wasn’t considered “Swastica Like” when a jewish NYC graphic designer plastered it all over disposable coffee cups. How the media uses words and connotations in order to smear any idea they don’t like. How about a free greece? A Democratic greece? Democracy doesn’t exist to just let leftist elitist ivory tower socialists win election after election. Democracy is there to ensure the people are represented by the leaders THEY CHOOSE. So what do you supposed great socialist “Democracy” pushers do when threatened with your eventual defeat and replacement? You attempt to nationally BAN the parties that are threatening you. If anything YOU are the threat to democracy because you only enjoy playing by it’s rules when you are winning. Freedom of Speech? More like speech as long as it doesn’t contradict the principles of globalist socialist elites. Voting? More like voting for the parties approved by the international socialist. This isn’t democracy it’s an Oligarchy…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sean-Dion/100001763278600 Sean Dion

    What do you expect from the great liars and the great nazi invokers? Their system of societal political correctness ensure them apotheosis as long as they can perpetually compare their opponents to this new societies greatest enemy Hitler. They will forever associate any enemy with hitler because it’s a pathetic tactic that works. As long as people still think “Golden Dawn=Nazis” greece will remain the molested child of the EU.

  • Konstantinos Farmakis

    Greece belongs to Greeks Anti-Hellenes Shut the Fck up