Golden Dawn, the Nazi party in Greece, came third in last month’s general election with 6.3 percent of the vote. It gained this position because of the collapse in support for the other parties. Overall, however, the general picture is of a marked shift to the left.
Golden Dawn’s share of the vote is down from the previous elections and the high of 9.4 percent it won in the Euro poll. Its biggest losses were in the urban and working class areas. This is despite the respectability that New Democracy, the Greek Tory party, gave to the Nazis’ propaganda during the election, with its attacks on the left and immigrants.
The previous government delayed the start of the trial against Golden Dawn leaders (related to the murder of left wing rapper Pavlos Fyssas). Even now no trial date has been set. It seems the Tories are waiting for a “more serious” Golden Dawn that could help them form a coalition.
One problem is that Syriza and other left wing organisations have taken the attitude that the best way to deal with Golden Dawn is to ignore it. Syriza has not joined in the fight to stop the Nazis, or taken the question of opposing racism seriously. It says the first priority is the question of austerity, and that because Golden Dawn rose in reaction to it, the best way to stop the Nazis is to bring austerity to an end.
This underestimates the danger the Nazis pose. In this climate, Golden Dawn believes it has space to grow. If it is not stopped by a serious anti-racist campaign, the party can consolidate its electoral base, even when it cannot launch terror campaigns in working class areas or mobilise its “stormtroopers” [street thugs]. Keerfa, the anti-fascist movement, has been crucial to pushing Golden Dawn back with popular mobilisations as well as denying it a platform in the media.
Keerfa is calling demonstrations on 21 March as part of the global day of anti-racism. At the same time it is calling on the Syriza government to implement an anti-racist agenda by: granting Greek citizenship to the children of immigrants; shutting down the immigrant detention centre; and initiating a process of legalisation for immigrants and asylum seekers.
The problem is that Syriza has formed a coalition with the Independent Greeks, a right wing racist party which is similar to Ukip. It opposes the right of citizenship for immigrants and is xenophobic. This presents a big political problem for Syriza. But after these elections there is a new confidence among the left that we can defeat the fascists.
Petros Constantinou, an Athens councillor for the radical left Antarsya coalition and national coordinator of the Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat (Keerfa) in Greece
For more on the Greek Elections and Syriza's win click here.