Greece Enlightening!

I’m really sorry about the title. Truly I am. Please keep reading. The Greek Elections are scheduled for the 6th of May, that’s only a couple of weeks into the dark and murky future. But before you dismiss this off-hand, which I’m sure you won’t do, and protest that this stuff is only of interest to hopeless political buffs, which I’m sure you don’t think, consider for a second, the elections possible implications.

I’m not an expert of Greek politics. Even if I had the self discipline I couldn’t read the plethora of party’s various manifestos and policies, and catch up on the latest inside news. Mostly because I can’t speak or read Greek, but the little I can gleam from the world around me makes me interested and just a bit concerned.

They're Not Waving. That's the Moutza. The Greek Equivalent of "Up Yours"

Greece’s government is deeply unpopular. With the departure of the far-right LAOS, it’s currently a grand coalition made from two separate parties, united by a common support for the austerity measures required for European Union bailouts to continue. The largest party in the coalition is PASOK, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, a centre-left party which garnered around 43% of the vote at the last election in 2009. After the last few years of economic catastrophe, it currently polls at around 15%. The leader of PASOK, Evangelos Venizelos is apparently extremely similar in appearance to the lead singer of British heavy metal band Grim Reaper.

The next largest party is New Democracy, PASOK’s centre-right counterpart and main opposition partner. The fact that PASOK and ND are now bedfellows speaks volumes about the magnitude of the situation effecting Greece. That is if the massive riots, unemployment and mass exodus went unnoticed. ND seems to be your run of the mill centre-right party, but it does however have a profound hard right influence. Party leader Antonis Samaras was ejected from the party 16 years ago for his bull-headed stance on Macedonia, and of their two MPs, formerly members of the once third party in the coalition, far right LAOS, have come to the attention of international media for their views and history.

This is Sabby Mioni’s take on coalition minister Markis Voridis, published in Haaretz at the beginning of this month.

As a Jew and an Israeli, I feel it is my duty and obligation to share with you Voridis’ background and political career. A former leading figure in Greece’s neo-Nazi youth group, Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn), Voridis has a long history of Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, including physical threats to Jewish families and leading groups of thugs against immigrants and leftists. Over the last couple of weeks he has smoothed over his thuggish past by describing it as “right-wing activism”. As a student at the elite Athens College high school, alma mater of current Prime Minister Papadimos, former Prime Minister Papandreou, Samaras and myself, Voridis formed the fascist student group “Free Students” that painted the walls with swastikas and saluted each other with using the Nazi-era greeting “Heil Hitler.”

See the Guy Walking Around With The Hammer? That's Voridis in Uni, 1985, Using His Hammer As A Debating Tool Against Communists and Jews.

During school elections, Voridis would violently threaten not only the Jewish students who opposed his fascist group, but also their families. After graduation, Voridis formed a fascist group in the Law School of Athens and became active in neo-Nazi youth groups. In the 1990s, following the footsteps of his mentor, Jean Marie LePen, he formed the National Front, an anti-immigrant party. His party’s motto was “Red card for immigrants.” A few years ago, he joined LAOS and was elected to parliament. He soon became the darling of the Greek media, due to his extensive family connections, his debating skills and his charisma in front of the cameras.”

Less prominent is deputy minister Adonis Georgiadis, who is famous for his televised rants against Muslims, immigrants, Jews and support for the military dictatorship that formerly governed Greece. Up until February the coalition could have included LAOS, or Popular Orthodox Rally, party leader Giorgos Karatzaferis, a one time body building xenophobe who once declared. “They say that to get ahead you have to be one of three things: a Jew, a homosexual, or a communist. We are none of these … Vote for a parliament without Masons, without homosexuals, without those dependent on Zionism.” Thankfully, support for LAOS has plummeted following their brief but toxic involvement in the grand coalition.

Now, bearing these facts in mind, the rapidly deteriorating status of the Greek economy, and what’s seen as increasing dependence on Germany and the EU, its no wonder why support for the Coalition, comprised of the once major parties is running at a combined 33%, and according to the latest MRB Hellas poll, only 7% would favour an administration comprised of the two main parties. More and more, Greeks are looking to the margins of the political arena for answers.

Poll methodology varies, but currently the support for the long-suffering KKE, the Communist Party of Greece, an old Soviet style Marxist party, prominent in the protest movement and known for denying the true scale of Stalin’s atrocities is running at around 10%. SYRIZA, the Coalition of the Radical Left, and the democratic socialist party DIMAR, the Democratic Left, are both recording similar results. That gives anti-austerity leftist parties, before the crisis either non-existent or with only fringe support, with a level of support that rivals the mainstream coalition.

Apart from the Greens, the anti-austerity classic liberals in the ANEL, Independent Greeks, and the New Democracy splinter group DISY, Democratic Alliance, the party that stands out the most if not in support than in sheer shock value is Golden Dawn. Once a fringe party, Golden Dawn, an unabashed ultra-nationalist Neo-nazi party with roots in Nazi occultism is now running at over 5% in some polls. Golden Dawn is known for reveling in Nazi memorabilia, Mein Kampf is on display at it’s headquarters, anti-immigrant violence, Nazi salutes and holocaust denial. Sadly, all of this is becoming more and more acceptable to the Greek electorate, as economic conditions worsen and anti-immigrant sentiment rises.

Now to the crux, what I told you at the beginning. What does this mean for you? Well, with anti-Austerity parties polling around about two thirds of the vote, Greece’s status as an EU member, and therefore continuing to receive bailout funds are increasingly in doubt. Default is a clear and present danger. What will this mean? I’m don’t pretend to be an economist, but thing’s I’ve heard sound pretty dire. Most of the Western world is in massive amounts of public debt and such a level of uncertainty and instability in this key part of the world can’t be good for the shaky and hole-ridden global financial sector as a whole. So I’m just sitting back and watching anxiously, in the full knowledge that drastic generational change might be just around in the corner.,_2012


5 thoughts on “Greece Enlightening!

  1. Greece’s parties of the Left have to present coherent programs, which for the most part they do, but also find a way to work with each other, which they don’t. If the Left comes to power in Greece next month, it will be as a Communist/Syriza/Democratic Left coalition. The Right thrives when the Left leaves a vacuum. France has its elections coming up, and there the Le Pen far Rightists are dropping in polls because the Left Front has put together a platform to directly confront the crisis caused by neoliberal austerity; it is strong enough that “Socialist” Francois Hollande has had to respond by moving leftward. Hollande will win in the absence of a big surprise; it will be up to the French people to hold his feet to the fire. And it is up to the Greek people to resist austerity, regardless of electoral outcome.

    • Agreed there entirely. There does however appear to be a great deal of ideological difference between Greece’s leftist parties. From Democratic Socialist moderates to libertarian/anarchist minded leftists and Neo-Stalinists, I imagine such a coalition might be hard to achieve.

      As for France, I can only hope Melenchon’s outstanding success can push Hollande further leftwards as you said.

      • You are very correct that there are large ideological differences among Greece’s Left parties. But until one of them can get elected on their own, a difficult coalition is the only route to avoid another “grand coalition” of Pasok, ND and smaller parties. The resistance of the Greek people, though, will ultimately have to be decisive.

  2. You never cease to astound me by the amount of thought and research that goes into your posts. People who say the younger generation aren’t aware of politics obviously haven’t read your blog.

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