Sunday's elections in Greece gave political legitimacy to the far-right Golden Dawn party for the first time in the nation's history, as the party won 21 parliamentary seats. Their victory prompted concern from the EU.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said they must be particularly "vigilant" following the election of Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi), HRI reported. However, he went on to add "we have to define what a neo-Nazi party is."
Nikolaos Michaloliakos, leader of Golden Dawn, denies that the extreme far-right party is neo-Nazi, claiming it is nationalistic. Gaining seven percent of the vote in elections, the party played on anti-immigrant sentiment that has been exacerbated in cities due to the rising tide of crime and creation of ghetto like areas filled with illegal immigrants.
Whilst Michaloliakos may distance his party from association with neo-Nazis, his words carry a menacing tone. As part of his victory speech the Guardian reported he said "Out of my country, out of my home! How will we do it? Use your imagination. This victory is dedicated to all the brave youngsters who wear black T-shirts with Golden Dawn written in white."In a speech made to voters on Sunday Michaloliakos appealed to voter disdain towards EU dictated austerity, saying "The resistance of Golden Dawn against the bailout dictators will continue. Inside and outside the Greek parliament. We will continue the battle for Greece. Free from the international speculators. For a proud and independent Greece. For Greece without the bailout slavery and the loss of our national sovereignty." (Telegraph)
In spite of their parliamentary gain it is unclear at this stage what influence Golden Dawn will yield in government, as thus far the other parties with a mandate to form a coalition have refused to include Golden Dawn in any coalition. Indeed, if a second election is necessitated, support for fringe parties could waver.
Meanwhile Jose Manuel Barroso warned that the EU Commission "will not hesitate to use all mechanisms available to act against those who insult community law and the fundamental human rights charter."