‘French-Greek axis’ with the same extreme views

Sociologist Angeliki Halki made the following comment on the increased percentage received by the right-wing LAOS party in voters’ intentions: «November was a volatile month for French society. One result was the recently observed tolerance of the racist views of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s ultra-right party,» she said, referring to a CSA Institute poll carried out between November 17-22, 2005, and reported in Le Monde on December 18. It found that one in three French people would describe themselves as racist (8 percent more than in 2004), 55 percent believe there are too many foreigners and 63 percent believe that some types of behavior can justify racist reactions. Men, the aged, workers, the self-employed, residents of rural areas and supporters of the right are more likely to express these xenophobic views, according to the survey. Another recent poll (TNS-SOFRES, conducted on December 15, 2005) showed that 24 percent of the French say they agree with the views of Le Pen. Le Monde’s headline that day read: «The French are becoming addicted to the ideas of Le Pen and the National Front.» According to the newspaper, in the space of just 10 years, the percentage of people who found the ultra-right’s views unacceptable has fallen by 10 percent. «If we consider the time frame of the polls (shortly after the incidents), it is clear that the high acceptance of racist views reflects both people’s rage over what happened and something that is now an established social trend,» said Halkia. «Le Pen’s party represents a growing sector of the French electorate. Irrespective of whether this trend will be confirmed in the 2007 presidential elections, it is certain that racist views have been unleashed. It is so easy today to claim to be a racist that no one is bothered by it.» Economic crisis «The explanation for this social and electoral trend should be sought in the economic crisis plaguing France, with the attendant unemployment, rise in social and financial inequalities, the dissolution of the social fabric through isolation, a lack of family solidarity and single-parent families, among other things,» she added. «So the increasing percentage of racism as reflected in declared intentions to vote after the riots in France also reflects an inability to coexist. The French, either because they can’t or don’t want to live peacefully with immigrants, choose to demonize them, blaming them for everything that is wrong. By stigmatizing this vulnerable category of citizens (to which the young rioters belong), French society is refusing to look at itself in the mirror and accept its multicultural nature.» As for Greece, Halkia believes that if one wonders whether the current economic crisis encourages the emergence of an ultra-right wing party, one first has to decide whether LAOS is an ultra-right party along the lines of France’s National Front. «Judging from statements by (LAOS leader) Giorgos Karatzaferis, any lingering doubts can be removed. In the 2004 elections, alongside the ‘usual’ black sheep (such as Jews, Communists, homosexuals) Karatzaferis, like his French mentor, added immigrants. I think the fact that part of Greek society is openly following him – and their numbers are growing, not counting the silent minority who agree with him but still vote for major parties – allows us to speak of a ‘Greek-French axis.’»

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