Golden Dawn: The alarming rise of Greece's far right

 

On a weekday evening, the Golden Dawn headquarters opposite Athens' main station in the neighbourhood of Kolonos is teeming with supporters. A burly man with a thick silver chain around his neck stands at the door. His black T-shirt reads: "Against all."

Pensioners, youths and a priest mill around the room. Mrs Eleftheria, a retired health worker, has been dragged along by a friend. "Golden Dawn has helped people, so I'm curious to see what they're about" she says.

The woman next to Mrs Eleftheria came to ask for the party's help in reclaiming cash that a man owed her.

"We address their complaints, the Golden Dawn MP Ioannis Vouldis says. "Our party's politicians don't live in the rich suburbs like most other MPs. We're part of the neighbourhood."

In less than three years, the party's popularity has shot up from 0.4 per cent of the popular vote to 6.97 per cent in recent elections. Now, that support stands at 12 per cent. With its unyielding criticism of austerity measures and fierce anti-immigrant policies, the party taps many popular anxieties.

But Golden Dawn's help to citizens goes well beyond politics. The party claims it receives calls from distressed landlords whose flats have been occupied by migrants.

Mr Vouldis says his party's men clear the households thanks to their "good face and strong hand".

"They have taken on the role of the police," says 30-year-old Vassilis, a policeman from northern Greece who voted for the party in the last elections. "They provide a good pressure to the political system when corruption goes unpunished and poverty soars."

The broken trust between mainstream politicians and Greeks is only one reason for the rise of the far right. With its nationalist rhetoric, Golden Dawn appeals to the bruised pride of Greeks who see their country surrender to the "diktats" of foreign lenders.

But the rise of the party has ugly consequences. Recently, Golden Dawn MPs smashed the stalls of immigrants in Rafina. Rights groups have criticised the police for standing by while attacks on foreigners have increased. Last Saturday, thugs broke into the home of the imam of the Pakistani community.

"The rise of fascism in Greece is very dangerous," Javed Aslam, president of the Greek Pakistani community, said. "I don't understand how Europe can remain silent about this terrorism."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent