Understanding the electoral breakthrough of Golden Dawn in Greece: A demand and supply perspective
In the June 2012 Greek national election, the right-wing extremist party known as Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi) gained 6.92% of the vote, thus entering the Hellenic Parliament for the first time with 18 seats. Given that its share of the vote was as low as 0.29% in the 2009 parliamentary elections, this was a remarkable success for the party. This paper uses a demand and supply framework to explain the electoral breakthrough of what is one of the most racist and extreme right institutionalised parties in Europe. While Golden Dawn has been exceptionally violent and activist in comparison to its Western European counterparts, this paper contends that at their core they are in fact very similar. It argues that four factors in particular are crucial to an understanding of the party’s breakthrough. These include unemployment and economic discontent; immigration and asylum; Greek conceptions of citizenship and nationhood; and the conduciveness of the political space. While there is no doubt that demand-side factors such as the economic crisis and the subsequent bailout have had massive social consequences that have been favourable to Golden Dawn, it is the latter two supply-side factors – the model of citizenship and the political space – that have allowed the party to truly capitalise on social discontent.