Fri Apr 13, 2012, 07:08 AM
pampango (16,398 posts)
Hard Times Lift Greece’s Anti-Immigrant Fringe - Far-right Golden Dawn party
The exchange was a telling sign of how the hard-core group — better known for its violent tangles with immigrants in downtown Athens and for the Nazi salutes that some members perform at rallies — has been trying to broaden its appeal, capitalizing on fears that illegal immigration has grown out of control at a time when the economy is bleeding jobs.
But even if Golden Dawn fails to enter Parliament (3 percent vote threshold needed), it has already had an impact on the broader political debate. In response to the fears over immigration and rising crime, Greece’s two leading parties — the Socialist Party and the center-right New Democracy Party — have also tapped into nationalist sentiment and are tacking hard right in a campaign in which immigration has become as central as the economy.
Last week, Evangelos Venizelos, who is running in the national elections as Socialist Party leader, warned that “Parliament cannot become a place for those nostalgic for fascism and Nazism.”
Golden Dawn is unabashedly nostalgic for both. Founded in the early 1980s by sympathizers of the military dictatorship that governed Greece from 1967 to 1974, Golden Dawn has always espoused a neo-Nazi ideology. Its symbol clearly resembles the swastika, and copies of “Mein Kampf” and books on the racial superiority of the Greeks are on prominent display in its Athens headquarters.
Its leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, said that the group opposed Greece’s agreement with its foreign lenders and that the country’s political leadership was too beholden to “international bankers.” The Nazi salutes by Golden Dawn members were not official policy, he said, adding that “we can’t control thousands” of people. (Soon after his election, Mr. Michaloliakos himself was captured on video doing a Nazi salute in the City Council.)
It's amazing that Greece's disastrous situation can be spun by the far-right into an attack on immigrants who are about as responsible for the country's problems as I am. It seems to work everywhere though, so I have to give the right some credit for smart politics. If you can get the poor and working class in your country to blame poor and working class immigrants ("they" are the problem, not "our" own rich and powerful), the power structure can breathe a little easier.
This right wing tactic always reminds me of the joke: A CEO, a tea party member, a union worker and an immigrant are sitting at a table when a plate with a dozen cookies arrives. Before anyone else can make a move, the CEO reaches out to rake in eleven of the cookies. When the other three look at him in surprise, the CEO locks eyes with the tea party member. "You better watch them," the executive says with a nod toward the union worker and the immigrant. "They want a piece of your cookie."
In the case of Greece, one can substitute an international financer/Greeks rich guy/Greek politician and the Greek working class. The principle remains the same. My guess is that Golden Dawn will go after Greek unions after immigrants, if it hasn't already.
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