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The inability to change is fuelling right-wing extremism

11 November 2014 / 20:11:13  GRReporter
1912 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

In recent years, the problem of right-wing extremism has occupied much of the public debate in Greece, due to the rapid and extremely large rise of Golden Dawn. Over the course of just three years, the party has managed not only to appoint councillors but also to enter parliament, and as the third political force at that!

Many commentators have attributed this rise to the economic crisis, but according to researchers who have analyzed the events in depth, it is just one of many reasons. This becomes clear from the comparison of the development of the right-wing extremism in different European countries presented in the collection "Right-Wing Extremism in Europe" published by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation.

During the presentation of the Greek edition of the book, political science professor at the Pandion University of Athens Vassiliki Georgiadou pointed out that the far right consists of two main streams: the stream of right-wing extremism, the members of which consider themselves as followers or true representatives of the Nazi ideology, and the stream of right-wing populism. Its representatives are opposed to everything that they define as a "system".

In her opinion the fact that many of the far right groups in Europe emerged in the 1970s and 1980s in countries where there was no economic crisis proves that it cannot cause this phenomenon alone. "This is evident from today's example of Portugal. It is a country of the European South, which has economic difficulties similar to those in Greece. Nevertheless, there is no far right party such as the existing Golden Dawn and the far right formation remains marginal, without public support," said Georgiadou.

The analysis of the results of the research conducted in various countries, which is published in the collection, makes it clear that the people who support the far right-wing formations have one thing in common, namely that in a period of profound and rapid changes, they are unable to follow, and adjust to, them and therefore find expression in their speech of negation.

Identical to a large extent are the features of the far right parties in various European countries. They are Russophile set, preach anti-Europeanism and strong anti-Semitism, support the idea of a strong state and pursue activism through violence. However, while in the other far right parties in Europe, the fighting brigades are parallel to, but not in, the party itself, they are the core of the Greek Golden Dawn.

"As described by the prosecutor in the indictment, it is a criminal group that has subsequently acquired the characteristics of a party," said Georgiadou.

In addition to the periods of social and economic crises, other factors are also favourable for the development of these extreme formations, including institutions – the electoral systems, the model of democracy, the quality of competition between the parties. In this regard, the Social Democrats in Europe have declared support for changes in the legislation that regulates the requirements that a formation must meet to become a party.

According to editor of the book Ralf Melzer, although the far right parties have not achieved good results in the European elections, they are represented at the level of local parliaments. In his words, the nationalism that these parties preach spreads through racist messages via the Internet, thus becoming international. "Indicative of the pattern of spreading is the fact that very high rates of xenophobia and hostility towards immigrants are observed in the eastern part of Germany where there are no immigrants. The strongest anti-Semitic attitudes are reported in areas where no Jews are living," he said.

The good news is that not all Europeans, who support such extremist views, vote for extremist parties. At the same time, about 30% of supporters withdraw their support when the institutions launch an investigation against them.

A ban on extremist formations can yield some results but it is not a panacea, as indicated by the participants in the discussion. Their opinion is that the democratic institutions in different countries need to launch more targeted information campaigns even at schools to curtail the dissemination of racist messages that later direct people towards extremist groups and parties.

Tags: PoliticsRight-wing extremismEuropeGolden DawnRight-wing populism
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