Far-right Golden Dawn was on the brink of suffering a staggering defeat in Greece’s general election on Sunday, falling short of the 3 percent threshold needed to enter the House and losing its seven-year-long parliamentary representation.
According to the official tally, with over three-fourths of the ballots counted, Golden Dawn is sitting at 2.97 percent and seems unlikely to elect a representative to Greek Parliament.
The demise of the neo-Nazi party follows a trend already set a few weeks ago, when it lost more than 50 percent of its electoral base during the European and local elections that took place in late May.
Golden Dawn was first ushered into the mainstream Greek political stage in 2010, when its candidate for the municipality of Athens got 5,3 percent of the total vote, winning a seat on the capital’s City Council. After attracting media attention, the far-right party first entered Parliament in May 2012 by securing 7 percent of the national vote. The neo-Nazi party attracted the same percentage of votes in the last general elections of September 2015, and for fours years remained the third largest party in Parliament.
Often relying on polarizing and extreme rhetoric as well as fascist symbolism, the party employed a divisive nationalist campaign focused on immigration, austerity and unemployment. Earlier this year, party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, who has in the past denied the existence of gas chambers at Nazi extermination camps, claimed that his party will fight for “a Greece that will belong solely to the Greeks.”
Following an investigation into the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in 2013 by a supporter of the party, Michaloliakos and various Golden Dawn MPs and members were held in pre-trial detention on suspicion of forming a criminal organization. Their trial began in 2015 and is currently ongoing.
Though several Golden Dawn voters shied away from the party following the recent controversies, a significant portion of its electoral base was responsible for electing one of the most radical newcomers of the upcoming Parliament.
The far-right, pro-Russian, nationalist party Greek Solution, led by Kyriakos Velopoulos, is expected to win as much as 3.8 percent of the national vote and gain 10 seats in the House. According to early projections, almost 30 percent of the electorate that voted for Golden Dawn in 2015 turned to Greek Solution in Sunday’s election.
Velopoulos has heavily opposed the Prespes agreement between Greece and what is now North Macedonia, and as a TV host has been selling what he says are original handwritten letters by Jesus.