425.000 Greek voters sided with a neonazi political party in the last election. Though Golden Dawn is implicated in a surge of violent attacks, and while its views range from the ridiculous to the downright racist, its popularity is rising by the day. What exactly is Golden Dawn, where does it come from, what is its true nature? What is the extent of their relationship to the police? And who are the people that vote for them?
Golden Dawn storm troopers in the city of Corinth
“The political party of the crisis par excellence”. This is how Golden Dawn is described by Efthymis Papavlassopoulos, a political scientist and pollster. And Christophoros Vernardakis, another political scientist and pollster, says: “It is the only political party that is clearly rising in popularity”.
In response to this rising popularity, the principals of Golden Dawn have made some effort recently to disguise the nature of their party. Especially after their electoral successes, they have attempted through a series of public statements to pass their organization off as a “nationalist” party that is honestly interested in the well being of Greek citizens and has taken up the struggle against the austerity policies imposed by the Greek governments at the behest of the troika.
They are not being truthful in the least: Golden Dawn is a neonazi organization, upgraded to a crowd-pleasing political party by riding on the wave of popular discontent with the established political system. Like their original source of inspiration –the German nazis– the neonazis of Golden Dawn have held views as varied as they are laughable, including mystical beliefs in the ancient Greek god Pan and other gods of Mount Olympus, as well as satanist beliefs dressed up in the theatrics of Black Metal music. They have also subscribed to wildly irrational or conspiratorial views, such as that the once no2 in the German nazi party Rudolph Hess was of Greek descent, or that Adolph Hitler roamed the streets of Berlin for forty days after his apparent suicide, only to ascend to the heavens at the end.
Unfortunately, again like their source of inspiration, they can by no means be dismissed as plain charlatans, though charlatans they certainly are. In addition, however, Golden Dawn is responsible for a web of intimidation and fear that is ever intensifying, and its members have been repeatedly connected –though few of them convicted– with assaults, racial violence, beatings, extortion, and attempted murder.