But who is supporting these fascists?
According to the final results of the May 25 elections for the European Parliament that came out last week, Golden Dawn (GD) became the third strongest Greek party among the European deputies attracting more than half a million votes and nearly 10% of the national vote. Hence it sent three out of a total of 21 deputies to the new European Parliament. It will be the first time a Greek ultra-right party sends representatives to Brussels and its MEPs are expected to join the Non-Inscrits (NI) who do not want to affiliate themselves with any of the officially recognized political groups.
The results of the last European Elections in Greece are still being hotly debated. Who won, who lost, what was the political message in a country that is still under a deep economic and social crisis in spite of the efforts of the coalition government of Antonis Samaras to convince the public that the recovery is “just around the corner?” And in spite of the encouraging messages from Brussels and Berlin and even from the IMF and international markets that Greece is making very good progress in applying the right reforms and measures to its ailing economy. The people in Greece feel exactly the opposite.
The new elected European parliamentarians for the GD are two retired generals and the father of a young Golden Dawn member who was murdered by unknown assailants in November last year as a reprisal for the cold blooded murder by a member of the Golden Dawn of Pavlos Fyssas, a popular Greek leftist rapper two months earlier. An investigation that followed led to the arrest of the leader of the party N. Michaloliakos and several other GD deputies whose parliamentary immunity was lifted after a recent vote in the Greek Parliament.
In the 2009 general elections, Golden Dawn got just under 10,000 votes representing 0.29 percent of the total and thus it was one of the many insignificant marginal political groups that usually fill out the electoral sheets in every electoral occasion. And in the European Elections of same year, they scored just 0.29 percent, receiving just under 20,000 votes. But during the general elections in May 2012, the picture changed radically. They climbed to almost 7 percent, attracting nearly half a million votes and sending 21 deputies to the Greek Parliament. The results rocked the political establishment which, though, quickly rushed to discard it as a temporary phenomenon and eventually.
But history is on a fast mode lately and by now many observers have come to realize the sympathizers of the Golden Dawn cannot simply be discarded as an amorphous fascistic mass of uncouth xenophobic racist ultranationalists. This is a much deeper, more complicated, more dangerous development in the country’s recent history that is difficult to uproot than just by promising a more prosperous future.
The last European Parliament elections gave a strong message for that. A more careful analysis of the GD voters showed that besides the high number of votes from members of the police and security forces, pensioners, civil servants, middle sized tradesmen and employees, even rumored high standing Greek businessmen who are secretly financing the movement, there are voters whose profile does not fit to the general picture.
The general perception is the average GD voter is someone badly hit by the economic downfall – the country lost 26 percent of its GDP, its social services collapsed, salaries and pensions shrank, labor rights were eliminated, a horrific unemployment rate of almost 27 percent hitting particularly young people or sending them abroad in large numbers. Their vote is a “punishing” vote against the whole spectrum of the political establishment.
But it is not just that. During the recent European elections, the party tried to “upgrade” its representatives. The long list of MEP candidates included political scientists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, psychologists.
It finally hit me. It happened when I read the names of the candidates of the Greek fascist party Golden Dawn for the recent elections of the European Parliament.
My shock did not come from the fact that three new MEPs will, for the first time, represent a Greek neo-Nazi fascist party in the European Parliament. This was somehow expected, looking at the meteoric rise of this ultra-right movement, almost unknown until a few years ago. The figures tell the story.
And the reason why I was shocked is a personal note: among these “prominent” names, I discovered to my astonishment, a famous cardiac surgeon known for his successful heart transplant operations and his high academic background. I knew him as a very poor student from a small village in Middle Greece who studied in Thessaloniki trying to finance his studies by working as a reserve industrial worker. After many years, he had called me some months ago to ask me if his sons – both heart surgeons – could find work in Turkey. Since then, we have not talked.