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GREEK NEWS

Far-Right Vows to Upend Greek Political System

Far-right on the rise in Greece
The far right is on the rise in Greece and Europe, as Sunday’s European Parliament elections show. Credit: AMNA

The far-right is the winner of Sunday’s European election in Greece with three parties entering the European Parliament with 16.71 percent of the total vote.

Elliniki Lysi (Hellenic Solution) won 9.5 percent of the vote, Niki (Victory) came up with 4.37 percent, and Foni Logikis (Voice of Reason) attained 3.4 percent. These form a challenging trio that took a sizeable chunk of the New Democracy ruling party.

The expected abstention, a common phenomenon in the ballot for the European Parliament elections, reached a record high, with only 53.74 percent of registered voters appearing at the ballot box.

Center-right New Democracy, which enjoyed an easy win in June 2023 with 40.56 percent of the total vote, dropped to 28.31 percent, paying a steep price for its inability to stop the galloping cost of living, crime rate, migrant influx, and lack of transparency in handling the Tempe railroad tragedy issue that cost 57 lives.

The center-left and far-left, represented by four parties, gathered 40.36 percent of the total vote, remaining in the same percentage figures as in the 2023 elections (40.53 percent). The only winner of the four was the Greek Communist Party (KKE), approaching double digits for the first time (9.25 percent). The leftist main opposition, Syriza-Progressive Alliance with new leader Stefanos Kasselakis fared worse than the 2023 national elections by three percentage points (17.83 to 14.92 percent).

Greece is following Europe in rise of far-right

Greece was no exception to Europe’s shift towards the far-right. In France, the results were phenomenal, as the smashing victory by Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) forced French President Emmanuel Macron to immediately dissolve the parliament and announce national elections on June 30th.

Germany’s socialist government received a blow from the far-right as well. The ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD) came one seat behind Alternative for Germany (AfD) (15 to 14). In Spain, the conservative PP won two more seats (22) in the European Parliament than the ruling socialist party of Pedro Sanchez (PSOE) (20). Far-right party Vox is now represented by six MEPs. In neighboring Portugal, the far-right CHEGA won two of the 21 seats. In Italy, it was no surprise that the FdI party of Giorgia Meloni came in first, electing 24 MEPs.

Greece could not be left behind in the far-right surge sweeping Europe. The “Homeland-Religion-Family” patriotism triptych won over a substantial number of Greeks.

The three Greek far-right parties in the European Parliament

Hellenic Solution (Elliniki Lysi) is the big winner of the far-right parties. The party is led by populist Kyriakos Velopoulos, a man who came to the forefront several years ago as a hardcore Greek Orthodox patriot selling religious paraphernalia and miracle ointments on late-night television. At some point, he even claimed he had in his possession letters that Jesus Christ wrote. In any case, Velopoulos has maintained a faithful audience that put him in the Greek Parliament, first with the now-defunct People’s Orthodox Alert and later leading his own party.

“We managed a great overturn. Greek people gave us their trust, so we call on all Greek patriots to join our cause so that we have a real patriotic government to rule our land. We wish that the media would finally recognize that Elliniki Lysi is the people’s national social party that it is here to govern because we are a force of responsibility,” Velopoulos said on Skai TV, adding that they “survived the mudslinging from the governing party.”

Dimitris Natsios, leader of Niki (Victory), is a teacher in primary education and a graduate of the Pedagogical Academy of Thessaloniki and the Theological School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He worked as a teacher in primary education, and in 2019 he entered the Greek Parliament.

“So far we protected the rights of the Greek people in Parliament. From tomorrow on, we will protect their rights in Europe. The abstention today is a failure of the current government, which actually, indirectly but clearly, encouraged this abstention. Niki is rising slowly but steadily and in the next election we will be stronger,” Natsios said on ANT1 television.

The third candidate, Afroditi Latinopoulou, was elected to represent her own party, Foni Logikis (Voice of Reason). She is a rookie in both the Greek and European Parliament. She was shocked when she found out that her party surpassed the SYRIZA offshoot Nea Aristera (New Left) or Mera 25 of Yanis Varoufakis in the European elections that didn’t make it to European representation.

Latinopoulou said that her party is on the right of New Democracy and believes that patriotic parties should form a coalition to represent the people who are disappointed by  New Democracy’s policies.

Speaking on Open TV, the far-right Greek politician said that she will cooperate with the Meloni government in Italy because she is against Europe’s open borders policy that has turned Europe into a “cultural mush.” She rejects the brand of “extremist” put on people who want their country to hold on to its traditional values. In the past, she has stated that the EU started as a Europe of nations, and this is how it should remain.

Who are the people who comprise the Greek far-right?

In Greece, the stereotype of the far-right of people with shaved heads greeting each other with the Nazi salute has been forgotten. The leaders of Golden Dawn have been imprisoned, and the party has dissolved. Today, the voter of a far-right party can be anyone from a 16-year-old who listens to rap music to an 80-year-old reminiscing on the days when criminality was as common as rain in May.

The far-right parties fish in a wide pool of elderly conservatives, family people who cannot afford a home, younger people who have previously never bothered to vote, descendants of the winners of the Greek Civil War, people of any age who are disgruntled by the high cost of living, and others who see migrants getting money for basking in the sun while their wages are insufficient for the number of hours they work.

In other words, the far-right voter could be just about anyone. Some may lie about their party loyalties because being right-wing has been stigmatized. For conservatives, it can also be a way to protest against gay marriage, pride parades, the high level of Muslim migration, and a number of other fairly new issues.

The Greek Muslim party in Thrace

A sizeable share of the vote went to the Equality Peace and Friendship Party (KIEF), the leading party in two of the three prefectures of Thrace. KIEF had significant gains in Rhodopi and came out first in Xanthi, with nearly double the percentage of votes compared to the ruling New Democracy.

In Rhodopi, KIEF received roughly 41 percent followed by New Democracy with 18 percent, and PASOK in third place with 9 percent.

In Xanthi, KIEF received about 29.50 percent while New Democracy followed with roughly 20 percent and SYRIZA with 9.50 percent.

This marks the third time that the Minority KIEF has participated in the European elections, having previously prevailed in the two prefectures of Thrace in the 2019 national elections.

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