(Reuters) - Like most others in this tiny village that lost 218 lives in a Nazi massacre in 1944, Mina Kotsiou looked on horrified as the extreme-right Golden Dawn party emerged as a surprise winner in Greece’s inconclusive election last month.
Days before a second vote, she is confident that the rest of Greece has caught on to what the central Greek village has known for 68 years – that any group fond of Nazi salutes, Aryan supremacist ideology and Adolf Hitler must only be feared.
Barely a month after Golden Dawn stormed into parliament with 7 percent of the vote, its fortunes are on the wane as stunned Greeks see its members in action: slapping a woman during a TV debate, ordering reporters to stand to attention, denying the Holocaust or smiling next to an Auschwitz oven.
“Those who voted for Golden Dawn did it out of ignorance – I don’t think they knew what they stood for,” said Kotsiou, 62, who lost two uncles in the Nazi slaughter of 1944.
“But after seeing them on television, their appearance, the way they behave, people have understood what they are about.”
Polls show support for the ultra-nationalist party – which denies it is neo-Nazi and hopes to rid Greece of immigrants – has dipped to between 3.6 and 5 percent ahead of Sunday’s vote, with some of its voters turning to the conservative New Democracy and Independent Greeks parties.
GREECE: TRYING TO UNDERSTAND SYRIZA
This article is very useful in explaining the fundamentally social-democratic character of the SYRIZA electoral bloc, which the bourgeois media are calling “far left” (and could be misinterpreted to mean “communist” or “revolutionary”), and where it stands in relationship to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).
By Paul Mason
SYRIZA is an acronym signifying “Coalition of the Radical Left”. It’s key component is a party called Synaspismos, itself an umbrella group of the far left in Greece.
Alexis Tsipras is the 38 year old leader of the Synaspismos party, and rose to prominence as its candidate for the mayor of Athens in 2006. Tsipras originated from the youth wing of the Communist Party, the KKE.
Greek communism, like most of western communism after the 1970s, was split into two hostile parties: the KKE of the “interior” and that of the “exterior” – the latter denoting a Moscow-oriented party, the former denoting a Euro-communist, more parliamentary and socially liberal agenda.
Initially Synaspismos was the electoral alliance between the two KKEs. But in the early 1990s the main Moscow-oriented KKE quit the alliance, purging about 45% of its members, who then stayed inside Synaspismos with the Eurocommunists. These included Tsipras.
Synaspismos then evolved in an interesting direction. Reacting to the rise of the anti-globalisation movement, first of all the party itself became a highly diverse left umbrella group: of Eurocommunists, left-social Democrats, far leftists, and ecologists. It played a significant role in mobilizations against summits, beginning in Genoa 2001 and beyond. Meanwhile the main KKE remained a traditional Communist party, rooted in public sector and manual trade unions.