Throughout the city of Athens, Greece, the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party has been gaining momentum.
Last Wednesday Greece got a huge jolt when Nikos Michaloliakos, Golden Dawn’s imprisoned leader, accused of murder and assault, made his first public appearance in almost nine months. The 58-year-old was brought before parliament, just before a vote to lift his immunity from prosecution related to additional charges of illegal weapons possession.
The party has had huge success in European and local elections. They have, in fact, emerged as the country’s third biggest political force, and are attracting an ever-growing numbers of the middle class. The Telegraph, commented that “the extremists drove home the message that they were not only on the rebound but here to stay. And as they ran roughshod through the house of democracy, hurling abuse at other MPs in an unprecedented display of violence and vulgarity, there was no mistaking what Golden Dawn is: a party of neo-Nazi creed determined to overturn the democratic order. For, far from being contrite, the handcuffed Michaloliakos was in unusually aggressive mood, giving Nazi salutes, telling the house speaker to “shut up”, and instructing guards to take their hands off him.”
In this climate, the Golden Dawn has become so emboldened that one member, a businessman interviewed by the Telegraph, said: “Who cares if six million Jews were exterminated? I don’t care if they were turned into soap. What I care about is the salary I have lost, the never-ending taxes I am forced to pay, the criminals who rule this country, the anger I carry inside.”
In a survey released last month by the Anti-Defamation League, with data spanning the globe, Greece was found to be the single most antisemitic country in Europe at 69%.
Dimitris Psarras, author of The Black Bible of Golden Dawn explains, “This is the deeper explanation for the growth of Golden Dawn. Greece has deep cultural differences with the rest of Europe. After the second world war, it did not undergo real democratisation because we had civil war [1946-49]. And after that the deep state was never really purged [of extreme rightwing elements]. Even when it was a small group, Golden Dawn had ties to the Greek state.”
Is democracy now under real threat in its very birthplace?
“Golden Dawn is on stand-by,” Psarras continued, “I don’t know how long it will take, but if this voluntary blindness continues, if the crisis goes on, it will be a real threat to democracy in the near future.”