Greece's xenophobic and violent Gold Dawn Party is, perhaps, no longer relegated to the fringe; new data shows that support for the neo-Nazi group is growing.
With numbers now qualifying the extremist group as Greece's third largest political party, a report published in the Ellada Avrio on Friday, showed that backing for Golden Dawn now stood at 14 percent—twice as much as it did in June when Greece elected 18 party members to Parliament. Another recent Public Issue poll published in Athen's Ekathimerini found that popularity of Nikos Mihalolioakos, head of the Golden Dawn party, has climbed to 22 percent, up 8 points from May.
Along with this growth in support comes mounting fear that hate crimes against immigrants, protestors, and homosexuals will increase with little government or police interference.
The group has gained momentum by promoting a populist, anti-austerity, anti-immigrant message. Loukas Tsoukalis, head of Greek think-tank Eliamep, explains :
The rapid increase of illegal immigration in the past years, growing despair over the ailing economy and a loss of trust in our political leadership have fueled public anger and given way to dangerous populism in the country
Golden Dawn has been taking advantage of the growing despair, presents itself as a protector of the weak and vulnerable. In dangerous neighborhoods they have offered to escort old ladies to the grocery store around the corner.
However, as The Independent's Laurie Penny points out in a view published earlier this month—despite their populist rhetoric—the party's solutions offer little respite for the plight of Greek workers, and their economic strategies "do nothing to halt the privatisation of public assets and publicisation of private debt." She continues:
The economic ethos of European neo-fascism, from the Golden Dawn to the British National Party, has historically been anti-neoliberal and anti-globalisation, exploiting local fears about the internationalisation of labour to build support for racist hate-speech. Once they gain even a scrap of power, however, today's fascist parties quickly demonstrate that their sympathies lie not with ordinary workers, but with bosses and bankers - just as one might expect from organisations whose guiding principles are love of power and hatred of difference.