Will Golden Dawn be able to gain from this moment of crisis? – by Kevin Ovenden in Athens

Kevin Ovenden
Of the 32 MPs who voted No in the early hours of this morning 17 comprise the parliamentary fraction of the fascist Golden Dawn.

That, alone, is reason enough for us to highlight the left vote against, in effect, a new memorandum. The whole of the left vote, as well as parts: 13 KKE MPs and two from Syriza.

Had there been no revolt – and we all wish it were bigger – then the narrative today would be very different. Irreconcilable extremists on both sides against national unity.

Given the KKE’s isolation, not as a result of tactics, but as one of their aims, the fascists would have been in position to pose as a national voice against “national treachery”.

It was two votes and eight active abstentions in the Syriza ranks. But these things matter in shaping politics. Way beyond the numbers.

Way beyond the world of the left and its most radical elements. Still, a question many comrades are asking is whether the prospects now are even bleaker than the parliamentary defeat.

Is the door opened to a resurgent Golden Dawn?

The fascists were the third party in the election. A distant third, but still with 380,000 votes and 17 MPs.

Third place meant that their leader, Michaloliakos, got 15 minutes under the parliamentary rules to speak last night.

Scrupulous defence of parliamentary protocol is a tactical question for the radical left. It is not a talisman guaranteed to ward away undemocratic outcomes.

His speech articulated the strategy they have been pursuing. They have sought to present themselves as an anti-systemic voice.

The aim has been cynically to put themselves in the slipstream of Syriza and hope to benefit as the “true defenders of the nation” when the government stalled. As now. A sort of “after Syriza, our turn” policy.

On the surface of it, the fascists did not suffer badly at the last election January compared with 2012. They lost 40,000 votes. They were significantly down on their peak at last year’s European elections.

But, as the piece linked to by Thanasis Kampagiannis shows, the small total decline in vote masks some major shifts. You can see the figures in the piece.

Put briefly, the fascists’ vote was much more significantly down in working class areas and among young people. Previously they had been competitors with the radical and anti-capitalist left in these demographic constituencies, with youth unemployment at over 50 percent.

Young male unemployed were a particular target group. Their vote was UP in rural and small town areas which are the traditional bases of the old New Democracy right, such as parts of the Peloponnese.

What this means is that their voter base is less “anti-systemic”, fewer radicalised young and unemployed people in working class areas (in addition to large numbers of small businessmen and the self-employed).

It is now more like the profile of the old right. It gained votes from New Democracy, but lost votes to the radical left. In Perama, the Communist Party retook its position as third party over Golden Dawn, which had occupied that slot in 2012.

As the article shows, no great objective set of circumstances can explain the shift. What does is the explosion of the anti-fascist movement in September 2013 following the murder of Pavlos Fyssas and the sustained, militant but broad campaigning by the anti-fascist movement, which is mainly grouped under the KEERFA coalition.

That campaigning also forced the previous government to shift from a de facto behind the scenes compact with the fascists and to prosecute the leadership and scores of others.

That is the trial taking place now, which I’ve frequently reported on. It will continue for another year. It has helped to incapacitate and disrupt the fascists. But the Greek antifascist movement is very clear that the key battles are in the neighbourhoods, workplaces, schools and so on.

It is also why it has insisted on a militant anti-racist front with immigrant communities at the centre.
It began that work to deligitimise Golden Dawn and build a popular anti-racist movement calling for citizenship rights for all and many other things back in 2009. Friends here are not at all complacent.

They are committed to sustaining and developing that movement. But they are confident that its impact so far and its continuing militancy means that it is the anti-capitalist left which is better placed to explain events and build its forces than the fascist right.

That is an assessment they give of the immediately coming period. Anything beyond that will depend on the success of the fighting left and of the movements of resistance. Now.