“Third party! Third party!” These cries are often heard among the populace, meaning that extreme far-right Golden Dawn (Χρυσή Αυγή), the Greek nazionalist party, is gaining ground and will have much stronger support in the next elections, whenever they take place. It is believed that Golden Dawn is making inroads all over the country. Their Hitler-style salute is based, they insist, on an ancient Greek way of greeting comrades, they believe that immigrants must get out of the country asap, and above all, the country must be ‘nationalized’ and not ‘sold out’ to foreign creditors, as it is now. It's unfair to say that the symbol of the party looks like a Nazi cross - it's cleverly disguised as an ancient Greek symbol.
The Guardian (UK) has published a series of damning reports about Golden Dawn, claiming that the Greek police side with them, they incite racist attacks and their violent physical tactics have led to the serious wounding of immigrants living and working in Greece inlcuding those who are legally in the country. It is already well known that Golden Dawn members ‘help’ pensioners to withdraw money by providing them with ‘protection’ so they don’t get mugged (older Greek citizens in Greece are generally speaking techno-illiterate), and they also hand out food parcels to Greek citizens only on presentation of a Greek ID card (they also gather personal data on their supporters, which their supporters stupidly hand out, at a time when privacy of data during the Internet Age is often controversially debated, which is just one form of evidence that their supporters are, for the most part, lowly educated, in both educational and social terms). They are also behind racially motivated attacks, based on skin colour, spoken accent and little else – their tactics involve displays of physical abuse rather than verbal policies.
Representatives of Golden Dawn were in Crete at the weekend to speak to their supporters. The Golden Dawn movement in Hania (and generally throughout Crete) is not highly visible, one of the few places in Greece that generally does not show high support for the racist party, although it does exist (their offices are based in Tzanakaki St, in the middle of town). This is possibly due to the fact that Cretans, while mindful of the high visibility of illegal immigrants on the island (begging at junctions, involved in petty crime, etc), do not actually object to immigrants living here, for very simple reasons: Eastern European immigrants have lived in Crete on a permanent basis for a long time now, since the fall of communism, and they are appreciated for their industriousness. Agricultural tasks simply could not be performed without immigrant help; immigrants are also a form of cheaper labour (which happens to be what Greece’s money-lenders are demanding – that Greek labour costs become cheaper). My understanding is that Golden Dawn supporters are generally not able to make their presence felt in Crete, because the political climate in the island is against them, so they keep to a more underground level in their activities.
The Golden Dawn rally in Hania was, for the most part, peaceful and uneventful. It hardly made local TV news, let alone nationwide coverage. The roads were blocked and there was a great degree of police presence; both supporters and demonstrators were highly visible, with more of the latter than the former. The presence of Golden Dawn on the island was reported by the mainstream press as ‘ανεπιθύμητη’ (undesirable). My husband locked down the cab early in the day, something he only does when he foresees φασαρία (trouble) brewing, which he fears may cause damage to public and private property, although none of this actually happened.
The Third-Party criers (they are generally not just supporters of Golden Dawn, but also of other parties) also believe that SYRIZA (the complete outsider who happily became the opposition in the previous election, as they themselves admit: “We are not yet ready to govern”) will win in the next election. These same people are also heard saying that Golden Dawn will be the main opposition, which means that they will need to be elected as the ‘second’ party. I hope they get their wish, and maybe even see Golden Dawn as the first party, ie winning the elections, but when I tell them that, they say it won’t happen. Obviously, they do not believe that their dreams can come true. I have a feeling that their dream of seeing Golden Dawn gain enough seats to become a strong opposition is simply just that - a dream in their head just like the ones they see in their sleep. They always wake up back to reality after the event takes place, and the dream does not have a continuation. It may be replayed a number of times, but it does not have a future.
On Golden Dawn's official site, we are informed that: "With fervor and enthusiasm Cretans welcomed Golden Dawn to the island... The event was a great success, as the Cretans proved that they closed their ears to Syriza supporters and anarchists who claimed it was a 'fascist' rally, choosing to listen to the language of truth, the national language of Golden Dawn!" Their representative (Ilias Kasidiaris, who had a punch-up with the not-very-nice-person-herself journalist-turned-KKE-MP Liana Kanneli live on TV), tells us that they are no longer illegally carrying weapons (as presumably they did in the past) because they now have this right as MPs. He also tells us that they use cheap forms of transport to move around the country (preferring Hyundais to Mercedes and BMW). They make themselves very likeable, don't they?
I’m not a Golden Dawn supporter, but I don’t think this party – which has no aspirations or even any economic program – should be banned. Nor do I believe that my own views (Greeks ruined Greece themselves, their habits as a whole were unsustainable, and they need a bout of austerity to get things under control again) are the only right ones; a small number of my acquaintances (Golden Dawn supporters aren't all skinhead freaks) can actually find something positive to say about that party. Everyone has an equal right to express themselves politically, no matter how much I may personally despise their tactics. But if people really believe that this is the party that could lead them towards a better future, I hope they get their wish, especially since I know that the last time I voted was probably the last time I ever will vote because I will be voting 'no confidence' from now on. The rise of Golden Dawn will help Greece to sink much much lower than she has already, pointing her in the direction of total annihilation. Only when Greece is totally destroyed will she be able to start rebuilding herself in a more positive direction. So something good may actually be born out of their shit.
One thing is sure, and that is that Golden Dawn does not spring out of Greek ideals. Greeks have always revered foreign ways, being quick to adopt what suits them. It is a movement that has European roots, and Golden Dawn is manifesting it with its own Greek style. Perhaps this is what will be its downfall in the end - it's unsustainable.
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