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The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in Greece is gaining traction and gaining confidence. Recent opinion polls gave the party 14% of potential votes, coming third.

The party is also pushing the limits with its Nazi gestures: the party’s logo has  resemblance  to the swastika, and now the leader of the party  Nikos Michalolioakos gave the Nazi salute in a youth rally.

The gesture that reminds global citizens of the horrible days of World War II and the Holocaust. It also raised controversy and disgust in Greece, but the leader of the party said this gesture comes to show that their “hands are clean”.

It’s important to note that Greece is one of the countries that suffered most form the Nazi occupation in World War II, and that the current president of Greece,  Karolos Papoulias, fought in the resistance movement against the German occupation, and was probably disgusted to meet the Golden Dawn officials in the post-election  coalition  talks.

This extreme party does not seem marginal anymore. In addition to entering parliament and gaining traction in the polls, there are allegations that the police has collaborated with the party. A group of 15 activists said they have been beaten and physically abused. And:

“Policemen also took photos of them and said they would have given them, together with their addresses, to Golden Dawn for reprisals.”

A coalition of mainstream parties controls Greece now: with the center right New Democracy’s leader Antonis Samaras as PM and two moderate left wing parties as junior partners. Mainstream parties lost a lot of ground to extreme left and extreme right parties in two rounds of elections in 2012.

This political process hasn’t stopped, but rather strengthened since then, hand in hand with the worsening economic conditions in the country: unemployment crossed the 25% line. Under such conditions, many look for solutions at the extreme ends.

Is this a temporary phase that will pass once conditions improve? Or is Greek democracy in danger?

Further reading:  Nationalistic Parties win in Spain’s Basque Country