Event Summary: ‘The Golden Dawn’s ‘Nationalist Solution’: Explaining the Rise of the Far Right in Greec


This is a summary of the event with Dr Sofia Vasilopoulou, chaired by Derek Twigg MP, on 8th of July; it reflects views expressed by the speaker and not those of the Henry Jackson Society.

For a transcript of this event, click here

On 8th of July, 2015 the Henry Jackson Society and Derek Twigg MP hosted Dr. Sofia Vasilopoulou who spoke about ‘The Golden Dawn’s ‘Nationalist Solution’: Explaining the Rise of the Far Right in Greece’. Severely crippled by the debilitating economic crisis, Greece has seen a dramatic rise of an extreme radical, ultranationalist Golden Dawn, despite being a party that represents the ideals vilified by the people of Greece. Dr. Vasilopoulou does not simply attribute the rise of the Golden Dawn to the economic crisis, but observed that the economic crisis is an extension of a political and ideological crisis that is happening in Greece. She explored the theories and ideology of fascism, making connections to the Golden Dawn’s ideological motivations. Furthermore, through her analysis of the economic, political, social situation in Greece she outlined the conditions that facilitated the Golden Dawn’s ascent to prominence in Greek politics.

Fascism and the Golden Dawn’s Ideology

  • Golden Dawn is a fascist, neo-Nazi political party. They are pan-nationalists, statist militarists who believe in authoritarianism and limited (or even no) liberties granted to the people.
  • The fascist leader dose not simply speak for the people but embodies the people. The party believes they can transcend sociality and achieve this ideal government through the process of “cleansing” internal and external opposition.
  • In Greece, internal opposition would include communist and general left-wing supporters. External opposition would include those involved in the economic crisis such as creditors and lenders and immigrants.

Conditions that facilitated the rise of the Golden Dawn

  • Fascism was discredited all across Europe after World War II but despite this trend, Greece saw a great rise in far-right support. In 2011 from nearly zero to no support, the party’s votes suddenly shot up to seven percent, winning them 18 seats in the parliament.
  • There are three main conditions that facilitated this rise:
    1. A crisis of the nation-state: a crisis that is economic, political and ideological. This nation-state crisis is manifested in the economic crisis, but close examination into the specifics and the developments during this crisis shows that it is more than just an economic issue.
    2. Political disillusionment of the people. Greek people have lost faith in the government’s capacity to deliver and on policy and provide public goods the people need.
    3. Golden Dawn’s capitalisation of the economic crisis and political disillusionment the people have towards the government by proposing a nationalist solution—providing services that run parallel to the state.
  • Golden Dawn has also managed to place fourth in the 2015 elections because of the implosion of the POSUK which drove many previous PASOK supporters to vote for the Golden Dawn.

Policy Implications and the Future of Greece in face of the rise of the Golden Dawn  

  • Demographics of Golden Dawn voters indicate that age, gender, social status, employment status are not indicators of their voting behaviour. Rather, the driving factor are the voter’s attitude and perception of the government’s capacity and credibility, thus those disillusioned and distrustful of the government would more likely vote for the Golden Dawn.
  • The rise of the Golden Dawn is not simply economically rooted, thus addressing the economic issue is only touching the surface of the problem. What is needed is a stronger education system and civil society, because the more educated the people are the less likely they will vote for the Golden Dawn.

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