This morning I came across a good, long-form story on the rise of the far right in Greece by John Carlin. I’ve linked to quite a bit of news about Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) in the past, but this one is well worth reading in full.
It does a nice job contextualizing the rise of Chrysi Avgi within broader currents of migration and economic decline. It notes that migrants come to Greece for a mixture of reasons, both economic and personal (e.g., their own personal safety), but that they do so primarily because the country is seen as the gateway to a prosperous, peaceful Europe. Unfortunately, as this story explains, the rest of Europe doesn’t want them, and they often end up, de facto, trapped in an economically-depressed Greece, where opportunities are non-existent or very limited. They also live in danger of arrest, incarceration in overcrowded detention centers, or beatings at the hands of Chrysi Avgi members and supporters. Perhaps one element of the story worth noting is the tacit alliance between the police and Chrysi Avgi; the former seem to allow the latter to operate with impunity, and as a result immigrants lack the ability to seek redress for the crimes committed against them.
But much of this is new–that is, Chrysi Avgi burst onto the political scene only recently, in 2012, and attacks on foreigners began to increase markedly only since 2010. Carlin does a nice job elucidating how declining living standards (lack of access to health care, food, etc.) and a lack of economic opportunity are integral to Golden Dawn’s rise. Golden Dawn presents an easy solution to a complex set of problems: the immigrants are to blame for Greece’s current situation, and Golden Dawn will rid the country of them (indeed, the party has referred to migrants as “subhuman” commonly).
Yet the story also notes that there are plenty of Greeks–a majority, in fact–who don’t agree at all with Golden Dawn’s platform, and would much prefer the party not exist. It also details networks of support that have emerged for migrants in Greece, including the Greek Forum of Refugees and the Greek Forum of Migrants. Yet alongside this, Carlin also notes that Doctors without Borders is, for the first time, considering extending its services to the native population because so many Greeks now lack access to basic healthcare services–powerful evidence that Greece is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.
And this is the crux of the matter: resources in Greece have dwindled, opportunity is almost nowhere to be found, and migrants keep pouring in by the thousands every year. Many Greeks also now think that the Germans and the EU are their political masters and feel that they lack control over their own domestic affairs. Historically, these conditions have proven to be fertile grounds for extremist political parties.
Other news on the rise of the far right in Greece and immigration:
NPR on Greek identity and the politics of identity.
On migration, detention, the broken Greek asylum system and one man’s life within this environment. In the last 12 months, Mohamed Lamhoud lived through a mass racist attack in Patras, was swept up during the Xenios Zeus raids and held in detention for 3 months in Corinth, took part in a hunger strike in the detention center, and finally managed to lodge an asylum application.
On the responses of Nea Demokratia and PASOK to Golden Dawn’s parliamentary presence and tactics.
See also this important story on police brutality, which details how tourists have been detained and beaten by the police in Athens. They were detained because of their skin color in the context of the “Xenios Zeus” operation.
On Golden Dawn’s global aspirations among the Greek diaspora.