A conversation that came up on Twitter earlier reminded me about something I learned in Greece, but which I’d never written about before, and that was the reason that the Golden Dawn (the Neo-Nazi party) is so popular.First of all, opinion polls do show them being quite popular. A new poll shows them being the 3rd most popular party in Greece, with 22% (!!) support.
Do more than a 5th of Greek people have Nazi or fascist tendencies? Heck no.
Basically, the Golden Dawn, as I learned when I was in Greece, operates as a kind of quasi services mafia.
If you’re an (ethnically Greek) old lady worried about getting robbed when you go to the ATM, a menacing Golden Dawn thug will escort you.
According to a source in Greece we heard from today, the Golden Dawn will also perform rent collections on behalf of landlords.
The Golden Dawn even distribute free food and have opened up a Grocery store for Greeks only.
With the public sector hobbled and unable to provide what it used to to the citizens, the Golden Dawn has been able to step into a vacuum.
There’s also the issue of illegal immigration.
Owing to Greece’s geographical spot and incredibly porous border (see map if you need a refresher), there are a lot of illegal immigrants in Greece, and it’s a widespread feeling that the government hasn’t tackled the issue well. So the Golden Dawn, who have been aggressive in their confrontations with illegal immigrants hold an appeal with some segment of the population.
And yes, another aspect is no doubt that in a collapsed economy, fringe elements will be more popular. This explains the rise of the communists as well.
But that’s only part of it… what’s key is how the Golden Dawn has positioned itself as an aid to many Greeks at a time when other institutions are decaying.
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