Supporters of Greek political party Golden Dawn rally in support of their arrested leaders recently. (Image Source: Reuters)
To say that Greece has been suffering through hard times and turmoil in recent years is an understatement of the highest magnitude. The Greeks seem to be a few steps away from utter collapse, bringing down the whole European Union with it. In dark times, darker forces tend to emerge, the fascists of Germany and Italy being prime examples in the years between World Wars I and II. Now, a Greek political party, Golden Dawn, seeks to be another example of this, trying to become a powerful force in Greek politics after successfully entering Parliament twice last year. But with its Neo-Nazi beliefs, and its supporters serving as paid hitmen towards migrants, gays, and Muslims, Golden Dawn is facing a downfall.
Golden Dawn gained success in the two Greek parliament elections in 2012 during the height of the Euro crisis, where Greece was the center of all the action. Essentially running on an anti-Euro, anti-immigrant platform, Golden Dawn took away all the votes from the previous far-right party in Parliament, Popular Orthodox Rally, after it had supported austerity measures that have supposedly prevented the Euro's collapse to the outrage of Greeks everywhere in the country. In the second election, Golden Dawn gained 18 seats, or 6% of Greek Parliament. After the election, resentment against the government made it possible for Golden Dawn to become the third-largest party in Greece, were elections held today.
Following the election, however, Golden Dawn began a terror campaign, with supporters attacking migrants and gays indiscriminately, as well as Muslims. A woman who attended a Golden Dawn meeting for protection against a man's harassment described members being armed with weapons, and a party member who was willing to hurt that person for a fee, from breaking his leg for 300 euros ($410) to "putting him into the hospital for a month" for 1,500 euros ($2000). The terror campaign reached a head with the killing of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by a Golden Dawn supporter.
Since that time, police officials in Greece uncovered a wider network of terror by Golden Dawn, extending to members of their own force. Several arrests have been made in the Fyssas murder, including members of Parliament. During searches, police discovered Neo-Nazi items, including swastika flags and Hitler pictures, in Golden Dawn homes.
The Greek courts have since declared Golden Dawn a criminal organization, and have ordered the arrests of its leadership, including party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos, for various crimes including inciting riots. Golden Dawn's polling numbers have begun to fall dramatically, though other political parties remain stagnant. The end of Golden Dawn as legitimate political force has become likely. But given that one in four Greeks remain unemployed, and the economy is still in shambles, the dark times that allowed Golden Dawn to rise in the first place are still there. No doubt somebody of similar or worse beliefs will take their place in due time.