The extreme-right ultra-nationalist party ‘Golden Dawn’ – described by many as neo-fascist – is set to enter the Greek Parliament. Exit polls show the party has won about seven per cent of the vote – well above the required three-per-cent threshold.
This is the first time in nearly 40 years that a far-right party is projected to enter Greece’s parliament.
“A new nationalist movement dawns. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks have dynamically joined the national cause for a great, free Greece,” Golden Dawn said on its website.
The party’s success is fueled by rising anti-immigrant sentiment amid the deteriorating economic situation that has led to sharp recession and large-scale unemployment.
Economic analyst and international lawyer Nick Skrekas believes that Greeks want to punish their governing parties for not paying attention to the people's wants and needs.
“This particular group has been sharp enough to understand that with vigilantes on the streets protecting parks, turning away prostitutes and drug-runners, they’ll win quite a large slice of popular support,” he told RT. “In Greece, the governments have not dealt with the issue of illegal immigration very well… and we’ve got ghettos springing up in many areas of Athens.”
Skrekas believes that anger was a characteristic of the present election, and people simply wanted to punish the two large parties. However, he warned Greeks should stay away from the Golden Dawn’s ideals.
“Greece lost 10 per cent of its population under the Nazi boot in WWII. We also have close to 10 million diaspora Greeks overseas. So xenophobia and racism are something we should stay far away from,” he concluded.
George Katroungalos, an attorney and professor of constitutional law, says there is nothing exceptional in the rise of the extreme right during a serious economic crisis. He believes that the extreme right parties will not have any future in the new coalition government.
“We have seen in all countries that have austerity measures or are facing a huge economic crisis a rise of the extreme right,” he told RT. “I think this is the other side of the coin of these austerity measures – the lack of hope. But I think that in Greece – now that we are seeing some kind of new hope for the renewal of the political system – these extreme right political parties are not going to have any future at all."
The country’s two long-term ruling parties have lost support to anti-austerity parties in this latest election. According to early results, the leading center-right party New Democracy finished with 19 per cent of the votes and 109 seats – down from 33.5 per cent in 2009. The center-left party PASOK received 13.3 per cent – down from 43.9 per cent.