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SYRIZA is not the political opposite of Golden Dawn

05 April 2013 / 20:04:06  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Golden Dawn’s election result shook the Greek political system and society and the party has established itself as the third political force in Greece. Its members have been striving hard to draw the interest of the media in every way they can in order to keep the cameras fixed on themselves.

According to commentators, this is their way to retain the support of the "accidental" voters who had supported them in order to punish the traditional and established players on the Greek political scene.

At the same time, the party is trying to reject the accusations of being a Nazi party by all possible means and does not miss any chance to turn parliament into a circus.

We are speaking about the nature of Golden Dawn, its place in the political spectrum and whether it is a threat to democracy with political scientist Vassiliki Georgiadou. She is an associate professor of political science at Panteion University in Athens and the author of the book "The Far Right and the Consequences of Consensus. Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and Germany." Since 2009, she has been closely following the development of the extreme political party along with colleagues from Greek and foreign universities.

Mrs. Georgiadou, where do you put Golden Dawn in ideological terms? What does this party have in common with the far right parties in other European countries?

All parties that are on the far right of the traditional right-wing and conservative parties are called far right. The main definition is "far right", but it is very common. It brings together parties that differ from each other.

So, this category involves the so-called populist radical parties of the far right wing and the extremist parties of the far right wing.

In Greek reality, the first subcategory involves LAOS party and the second - Golden Dawn. But even there, things are not equal. There are parties of authoritarian nature and activism, which is expressed through the use of means of political violence, but there are also parties, which bear a national-socialist and Nazi ideology.

Not all extremist parties of the far right in Europe have a pro-Nazi orientation. But all pro-Nazi parties are extremist.

Why has this phenomenon occurred in Greece relatively late, when neo-Nazism in Europe was fading away?

In the three major countries in south Europe, which had experienced dictatorships or fascist regimes that lasted until the late post-war period, such as Greece, Portugal and Spain, no strong right parties in terms of their electoral power emerged after the fall of these regimes. The reason was that the memories of the time of authoritarian rule were so strong that they did not allow the citizens to accept the ideology of far right formations.

The intolerance to the far right in Greece started from the first post-war period, when the so-called national parties appeared. This was how the parties defined themselves, when they were outside the context of traditional right-wing parties. In fact, they were right-wing parties, but the term did not exist then. This political space did not aim at establishing an independent presence in the political system. Its aim was rather to fit under the "umbrella" of a large right-wing party. That is why different formations that existed in the 1950s and 1960s, and their members, were trying to join the currently strong right-wing party.
This pattern continuously repeated itself until the first years after the restoration of democracy in 1974. One would expect that precisely at that time, different pro-monarchist and pro-military formations of anti-communist orientation should be striving for independent participation in the elections. But this did not happen. Their participation was negligible. They somewhat mustered their strength, but only temporarily, during the elections in 1977, when the monarchy had already been abolished.

In general, we could say that until 2001, when George Karatzaferis founded the LAOS party, this kind of New Democracy "umbrella" was covering everything and the majority of ultra-national and ultraconservative forces, and even the followers of military dictatorship, were in its interior.

Recently, there has been a discussion on how the media should cover the activities of Golden Dawn. Some believe they should show everything in order to show the true face of the party whereas according to others, the media are paying too much attention to it. What is your opinion?

I think that the performance of Golden Dawn has passed through several stages. One of the issues that we have been following with colleagues is how the media contribute to the political establishment of the party. At first, and until the local elections in 2010 when the party first appeared on the political scene, the media ignored it. Even during the election race, they did not provide a platform for its leader Nikos Mihaloliakos. He had sent a non-legal letter to one of the TV stations in order to be allowed to participate in a discussion among all candidates.

After his election in the city council of Athens, Golden Dawn attracted the interest of the media, which began paying too much attention to it, not only in terms of the participation of Golden Dawn’s members in broadcasts but mostly by presenting the activities of the party.

The media did not have a coverage criterion as regards Golden Dawn in any of the two cases. For 10 years, they missed the opportunity of creating a tool to show the public the political organizations that bear the specific ideology.

Tags: PoliticsPolitical systemSYRIZAGolden DawnExtremist right wingMedia
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