Banning Golden Dawn is not the Answer

In the past week there have been increasing calls to ban the Greek far right party, known as Golden Dawn. Since the party has achieved national representation by winning 18 seats in the Greek Parliament, it has been making headlines in Greece, Europe and the World in general. This attention has come in the form of alleged assaults on immigrants (legal and illegal), members of the political left and an uncanny resemblance to Nazi Party marches in the streets of Greek cities.

Since Golden Dawn has won election to the Greek Parliament it has been constantly criticised for its hands on politics and has taken the law into its own hands on a number of occasions. So much so, that the Greek Police have been known to refer crimes involving immigrants to Golden Dawn so that they can take care of the matter. It is clear that a party that has been given the power to enforce the law by aspects of the Greek state is not one to be ignored. In a way this style of activism does seem to be working in their favour if Greek opinion polls are correct.

In the June 2012 election, the party polled near enough, 7% of the vote. Current polls tend to have them at around 10-15% which would almost double their vote. This makes them Greece’s third largest political party in terms of support and if this support holds until the next election then they could have an impact on forming a government. To ban any party is in my opinion a very risky strategy, and one that can undermine a democracy. To ban a popular party is very foolish and will only risk antagonising more of the Greek public who are already fed up with the main political parties. Whether you love Golden Dawn or hate them, it is hard to argue that they are inactive in opposition which they demonstrate through their use of soup kitchens (for Greeks only) and their brutal vigilante tactics against immigrants.

The context for this recent ban does have justification however. A few weeks ago a Greek hip hop artist of left wing persuasion was stabbed and murdered by a Golden Dawn member and this has resulted in resurgent calls for the party to be banned. However this will not work for a variety of reasons. The first one is already mentioned in the previous paragraph, but the second reason is that this does not stop Golden Dawn forming a new party with the same people. Even if you can somehow evict the party’s representatives from parliament, this does not solve the problem of fascism in Greece and actually risks worsening it.

Overall, banning Golden Dawn would be remarkably stupid given their popularity and it would not solve the larger issues of racism and political extremism in Greece which is already facing tremendous economic and social stress. It also undermines the very principle of democracy where everybody should be allowed a say no matter how much repugnant we may find their beliefs. Yes, Golden Dawn should be tackled and fought at every turn as they represent an ideology of hate (fascism) but this can be done through debates and convincing the Greek public to turn to more moderate alternatives like the Independent Greeks Party for example. The sad fact is that Golden Dawn will continue to grow and gain more elected representatives including in the European Parliament in 2014 and at municipal level throughout Greece’s regions.

References (Requires google translation)

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Categories: International politics, Opinion


Conservative who supports Northampton Town Football Club and is rather geeky with a love of video games, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones among others. I like to write about politics, history, football and several other things. Views here are my own and I will not apologise for them. Feel free to follow me on twitter at Simonturner2

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