The appearance this week of a new political movement called Greeks’ Initiative confirms the fluidity in the domain of the Greek right – even though the term is all but extinct from the nation’s political vocabulary. Developments here, which are at odds with what happens in most other countries, appear to confirm the ideological hegemony of the center-left.
The fragmentation of the conservative party, as a result of decisions made by New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, did not produce any bourgeois right-wing parties critical of the policies imposed by the Socialist government of former Premier George Papandreou that were later adopted by the country’s pro-European parties, as it were.
Golden Dawn expresses a primitive and extreme nationalism with strong xenophobic and paganistic elements. Its appeal among young Greeks is mostly a result of the fact that the most dynamic element of society has been pushed to the fringe. It is a product of contingency, not of ideological inquiry. Any similarities to the Nazi party in Germany have to do with aspects of organization and behavior as Golden Dawn lacks any serious depth. In a way, it is not a party but a battalion, a system of indoctrinated followers or devotees.
For their part, Independent Greeks members appear animated by the voluminous outbursts of their leader, Panos Kammenos, who seems incapable of defining the character of the Greek right in the current conjuncture. It’s hard to say why Samaras has failed to act on this. After all, it was he that concentrated on the issue of ND’s ideological content during the party’s presidential race in 2009.
The debt crisis all but demolished PASOK, but the center-left found a lifeline in SYRIZA. The message of SYRIZA is amateurish, unclear and often contradictory, but the party has at least lost some of its momentum. Perhaps Alexis Tsipras would benefit from doing away with the more extremist elements among the party ranks.
Meanwhile, the right is faced with completely different issues. One question still begging for an answer concerns the fate of the nation state in the context of globalization and that of the traditional middle class which does not seem to have a role in the nascent world order. The Socialists, the Communists and leftists in general have always been internationalists so they will easily adapt to the new reality.
Conservatives on the other hand have always been allergic to internationalist dogmas. In his efforts to stay within EU contours, Samaras is losing touch with the core that won ND elections past. ND is breaking away from the right. That is bad for the party; and it could prove to be bad for the parliamentary system in general.