Emboldened by its showing in European Parliament and local elections where it performed strongly despite the jailing and arrest of its hierarchy, the ultra-extremist Golden Dawn party has shown the face of Nazism.
In a piece in The Guardian, the British newspaper’s long-time Athens correspondent, Helena Smith, wrote that the party’s evil face has become more visible.
“It has been a bad week for democracy in Athens. All around this great Greek city, the politics of hate now lurk,” she wrote.
Visiting a cafe she likes in the main Syntagma Square, she wrote of two well-educated middle-aged men who were Golden Dawn supporters, indicating they supported the party because it opposes the corruption that helped create a crushing economic crisis and opposes immigrants.
“The only way to teach our filthy politicians is to bring in Golden Dawn,” one man said. “These gentlemen are patriots, proud Greek nationalists, and they know how to deal with the scum, the foreigners who never pay taxes, who steal our jobs, who have taken over our streets,” he added.
She said the second dismissed government claims the party is a criminal gang, for which its leaders face charges. He was a government worker, he said, and he believed – as does Golden Dawn – that there is a vast Jewish conspiracy to rule the world through banking and economics and keep Greece in subservience.
“Let’s not forget all the faggots and the Jews, the wankers who control the banks, the foreigners who are behind them, who came in and f–ked Greece,” he insisted. “The criminals who have governed us, who have robbed us of our future, of our dreams, need a big thwack.”
That came as Golden Dawn’s leader, the jailed Nikos Michaloliakos, was allowed out to address Parliament as lawmakers debated whether to lift immunity against him over more charges he’s facing. He was unrepentant and defiant.
With Golden Dawn tightening its hold on third place after dipping last year following the murder of a anti-fascist hip-hop artist for which a party member was arrested, it has become more bold after the recent elections which showed Greece’s once-dominant center-lift disintegrating after continuing to back austerity measures that have impoverished many Greeks.
“Thanks to a softening of image that has attracted ever-growing numbers of the middle class – 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,” she added.
While Michaloliakos testified and taunted Parliament’s leaders, some 600 of the party’s zealots were outside, screaming and ranting. wearing their black-shirted uniforms and holding the Swastika-like ancient Greek meander as their flag. They sang a Nazi song, with Greek lyrics.
“That day democracy felt a bit weak,” Pavlos Tzimas, a political commentator who has watched the party’s rise from its fringe group beginnings in the early 1980s told her.
“After all the revelations [about criminal activity], after all the prosecutions against its MPs, it still has the nerve to act in such a way, in scenes of hate that, frankly, I cannot recall ever being seen inside the Parliament,” he sighed.
He added: “Golden Dawn is not a passing phase, it will not disappear with the end of the crisis, it feels untouchable, it fears nothing, and what we saw this week is its real face. It is not like other extremist parties in Europe. It is a true neo-Nazi force whose aim is to use democracy to destroy democracy.”