|By Spyros Derveniotis
Translation: “Dirty immigrants, dying
where the Greeks eat!
Greece recently had two very important political anniversaries. More specifically, May 6th, 2013, marked three years since the adoption of the Memorandum which caused the greatest political rearrangements in the country’s recent history, and one year since the 2012 general elections, when those dramatic changes were first expressed through the ballot box. Greek society is living in a period where political time is condensed to such a degree, that the changes occurring every month and every week can hardly be conceived by its collective consciousness. Since the May 2012 elections, which did not lead to the formation of a new government but to repeat elections a month later, the country’s image and its political landscape kept changing at a rapid pace until today. In light of a greater tribute to the one year anniversary since last June’s elections, when today’s three-party coalition government came to power, we take a look at the facts and data which changed in this past year, starting from last May’s elections.
Greek media hailed on 07 May 2013 a proposed new bill against racism that was reportedly prepared by the Ministry of Justice and will be submitted to parliament after the Easter holiday. According to news reports (see e.g. here, here, here and here), the new bill proposes much harsher penalties for all forms of hate speech, with prison sentences ranging from 3 to 6 years and fines up to €20,000, while deprivation of political rights would be considered in certain cases. Discussion of this bill began in the public debate as it was announced that parliament would discuss lifting the immunity of Golden Dawn MP Germenis following his assault on Mayor of Athens Kaminis last week during a food distribution “for Greeks only” organized by Golden Dawn.
According to the official figures of the Ministry of Interior, only 62.47% of Greeks actually voted in the June 17 elections. Participation was hardly better on 06 May, at 65.1%. Various commentators in Greece and abroad intepreted this high abstention rate in what was unanimously called “the most crucial elections in Greece since 1974” as a lack of interest in the political process or even a wholesale rejection of the political class. However, these figures are challenges by a simple fact: the number of people who are actually living in Greece.
A lot has been said about the fact that large numbers of Greek policemen are supporters and voters of the neo-nazi party Golden Dawn. The first publication of this sort in a mainstream newspaper was an article by Vasilis Lambropoulos in To Vima on 11 May 2012, where he concluded that data from specific polling stations where policemen vote showed that some 50% of policemen had actually voted for Golden Dawn in the 06 May elections. Today, Lambropoulos published another article, saying that this tendency had been confirmed in the 17 June elections.
In the past few days, there have been so many changes, transfers, counter-transfers and mergers on the Greek political scene that it has all become a little confusing, even for experienced observers of Greek politics. While this phenomenon can be interpreted as simple, cheap politicking by individuals seeking to secure their re-election in June, careful examination of the backgrounds of some politicians also reveals a worrying tendency to mainstream and trivialize the opinions and positions of personalities who, by all reasonable standards, belong to the extreme-right.