Can Greece Bail Out Europe?
Those Greeks are driving down the Eurozone. They are lazy and just want to live off our money. Why should our taxes go for bailing out their failed banks?
This rhetoric has become ever more popular around the continent. It has exacerbated political divisions and featured in not one election campaign.
Last week, the Greek government initiated an unprecedented operation to crack down on the extreme-right Golden Dawn party. Its leader, together with a number of MPs were taken into custody and charged with running a criminal organization, after an arsenal of weapons were found in some of the party’s offices.
Earlier, on September 17, the murder of a leftist rapper in Athens shocked Greek society, after it became known that Golden Dawn members had perpetrated the attack.
Thousands took to the streets in anti-fascist rallies.
The government’s response showed maturity and political will. It sent a message that abusing the financial crisis as a means of hijacking the democratic values of the country will not be tolerated.
The resurfacing of the extreme right in Europe’s political spectrum is a matter that should not be bypassed with a blind eye.
In my home Bulgaria, the equivalent Ataka party holds the fourth highest number of seats in parliament. The ruling government has repeatedly refrained from countering the ill-mannered outbursts of hatred from its MPs, since they depend on them for constituting a majority.
The irony of an extremist playing balancer…
Meanwhile, Ataka leader Volen Siderov goes around harassing protestors, assaulting journalists, and carrying a weapon into parliament sessions. It is all impudently excused by his immunity as an MP.
It would be overly simplistic to put all of Europe’s far-right movements in one box. However, they commonly thrive on similar elements: financial and political crisis, rejection of “the other”, and supremacist populism.
Where they differ, is in their evolutionary stage. With over 25 years of existence, Golden Dawn had managed to establish regional strongholds, artillery stocks, and connections with police, covering their underground activities with the illustrious veil of political immunity.
Other ultranationalist parties in Europe may not be at the stage where they can exert such pressure on local politics and society, but if they had the power to, rest assured they would.
The line between fighting extremist rhetoric and extremist acts may be quite thick, and proponents of free speech will be quick to jump at me for advocating the prior.
However, history has shown us the inevitable link between the two.
Labor restrictions for foreigners in the UK and Netherlands, expulsion of Roma from France, discussions to close the border for Syrian refugees in Bulgaria – they all represent the same phenomenon.
Yes, the Greek economy may now depend on European bailout packages, but as it’s heading, some European states will soon need to adopt the Greek example on fighting extremism.
Not the one from the Middle East, but the homebred one.