Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2862

Who are the far right and fascist groups in the new Greek parliament?

Isabel Ringrose looks at the far right parties that have won seats in the election
Issue 2862

Fascists of the former Golden Dawn party are finding a new political home (Picture: DTRocks)

Fascists are back in force in the Greek parliament. Three far right parties, one openly fascist, took almost 13 percent of the overall vote in June’s legislative elections.

The Spartans, Greek Solution and Niki—or Victory—soared from the shadows, claiming 34 seats of 300. The Spartans took 4.7 percent of the vote—the biggest chunk of the three.

Petros Constantinou is from the Greek anti-fascist organisation Keerfa and SEK, the Greek sister organisation of the Socialist Workers Party. “They’re the new number two of Golden Dawn,” he said. 

“Its leadership is neo-Nazis from the old leadership. The Spartans are there for former Golden Dawn leaders to construct themselves with another name.”

The fragmentation of the far right follows Nazi Golden Dawn’s criminalisation. Now the different parties compete for space. Golden Dawn entered parliament, holding 18 seats from 2012-2019.

In 2020 after a five and a half year trial, 68 leaders and members were convicted for forming and running a criminal organisation. This came after a reign of murders and attacks on trade unionists, anti-fascists and migrants.

Ilias Kasidiaris—the imprisoned leader of the now banned fascist Golden Dawn party—attempted to relaunch himself with his new Hellenes party. But his ascent was blocked by the Supreme Court before the first election in May. So Kasidiaris called for full support for the Spartans, seeing them propel forwards in the June elections.

The Spartan’s leader, Vassilis Stigas, in his first public statement thanked Kasidiaris profusely for providing “the fuel” for their success. Six of the Spartans’ 12 MPs were in Kasidiaris’ Hellenes. While the Spartans share the racism and anti-migrant hate, its levels of street violence are not yet the same as Golden Dawn.

Far right parties Greek Solution and Niki combine religious, traditionalist, nationalist and conspiracy policies backed by the Green Orthodox church. In May Niki took no seats, with Greek Solution taking 16 up from ten in 2019.

Greek Solution leader, Kyriakos Velopoulos, was previously in the People’s Orthodox Alarm who entered parliament for the first time in 2007. In 2011 it joined the New Democracy (ND) party and Labour-type Pasok to form a coalition as part of an interim cabinet during the economic crisis. It subsequently collapsed, which opened up space for Golden Dawn to enter.

Since forming Greek Solution in 2016 Velopoulos has taken to Greek television to sell his cure-all cream against Covid. He also claims to have handwritten letters from Jesus.

Niki was founded after the Syriza government made an agreement with North Macedonia to become a republic in February 2019. It campaigned against lockdowns and vaccinations during the pandemic, with support from the church. It’s also openly homophobic.

Both parties are also vehemently anti-migrant. But it’s the Spartans that made this their main concern.

“These two new parties are a product of the panicked ruling class that uses poisonous racism methods against the left. That’s the same ND government that murdered 600 refugees and migrants with its policies,” Petros said.

And Syriza, both in government and especially as opposition, failed to challenge this. It went from a policy of welcoming refugees, to backing the “border wall” with Turkey, accepting EU border closures and shutting refugee centres.

‘If we don’t fight the situation will become more dangerous’

“We’re facing a new fascist threat,” Petros explained. “We have to go back and compare to what happened after 2008 until the period of 2013 when Golden Dawn ramped up its attacks and murders on migrants and activists. But between now and that period, there is no comparison in terms of levels of violence.”

Petros said this is a political crisis in Greece, which is fertile ground for the fascists to grow more. “Earlier this year there was a huge march because of the big train crash caused by privatisation. The revolt saw strikes, with over one million demonstrating. 

“The ruling class was really scared. It panicked and responded with racism and this opened up space for the fascists.”

Petros said that for revolutionaries in SEK “the answer is to escalate the struggle and build workers’ resistance”. “The narrative after the elections has to be to overthrow the ND government. We need to build the power of workers from below against privatisation, racism, sexism and all backwards ideas.

“It means building a new, strong left because if we don’t fight these things the situation will become even more dangerous. The ND leadership won’t deliver on its promises.”

As well as this, Petros explained that the anti-fascist left has to unite. “The second fight for our united front Keerfa is to very visibly organise against the fascists, and fight for open border policies and against racism.”

Petros added that the Greek Marxism Festival taking place later this month will be a step towards discussing the strategy going forwards. “We expect people from Syriza, who disagreed openly with their party’s leadership on migrants and refugees, to participate.”

Anti-fascists will also continue to campaign against convicted Golden Dawn leaders seeking legal appeals. “It’s a matter of united struggle with the trade unions and wider left—and winning the working class moment to take up the fight against racism,” Petros said.

“We have good experience fighting against the fascists, we know we need to mobilise big forces, strikes, demonstrations and not give them any platform.”

Anti-fascists build the fight back

Despite the rising fascist threat, Petros says that the three parties aren’t in a position to immediately raise the levels of violence on the streets that has previously been seen. Greek Solution doesn’t use the method of street fighting, instead investing money in media conspiracy theories,” he explained. 

“Niki organised, against teachers who supported sex education, particularly over abortion and women’s rights.”

But there was violence in the pre-election period from supporters of Ilia Kasidiaris. Golden Dawn’s fringes have attempted to keep up its street violence. In September 2021 its youth wing attacked left-wing students at a high school in Stavroupoli.

And in the days after the elections, the Spartans called for an anti-LGBT+ rally against the pride in Chania last Thursday. “We’re less than one week in and already they’re trying to stop a pride demonstration, and they’re trying to do this under the name of ‘citizens’ and parents in the area,” Petros said.

“Keerfa has called for a counter-demonstration. The fascist parties are very visible in parliament now. When they call any kind of operation, we will be there to stand against them.”

In reality there is a debate within Spartans. One part is arguing that electoral methods are for the time important, rather than violence.

Petros added that the issue is also how to fight the government, which opened up space for the fascists. “New Democracy wants to seem like it’s the party of nationalism. It created the space for the fascists and did their job in pushing racism.”

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance