Can anyone write about the Athens Court of Appeal’s verdict on Golden Dawn without resorting to clichés? Without using words like “historic,” “victory” or “democracy”? Without mentioning the Brechtian figure of Magda Fyssa or her cry “Son, you did it”? It’s tough.
We can though, under the influence of this moment of enormous national relief, say why this development is so important. Because what started with a bipartisan front page in Efimerida ton Syntakton a week ago continued on Wednesday when the prime minister, the leader of the main opposition and the heads of almost every political party came together to form – albeit belatedly – a common front against Golden Dawn. They saw the guilty verdict against the party’s leadership as a confirmation of the absolute dominance of constitutional democracy. Anyone who challenges the democratic system has no place in it, they said.
At the same time, the justice system proved that Greece is no Hungary, as some like to claim lightly. In spite of efforts by some to underplay the court’s decision by forecasting an exoneration from the “conservative” (sic) institution, Wednesday’s decision was a paradigm of the judicial process. As usually happens with such crucial cases, the judges rose to the occasion.
Did they act under pressure from the large crowd gathered outside the court? I believe the complaints lodged to this end were exaggerated. Society is not absent from the decisions of justice. And citizens have the right to gather, to demand and, ultimately, to rejoice. The efforts of the politicians to manipulate such situations, however, are less acceptable. But they are judged: either on the spot or at the ballot box.
Do former prime ministers Antonis Samaras and Alexis Tsipras, the political parties that played parliamentary arithmetic games with Golden Dawn, or those that opened lines of communication, that saw eye-to-eye with its former lawmakers or fished from the same voter pool, have a right to rejoice? What about the people who voted for the party and then regretted it? Or the media that downplayed the threat by carrying out lackluster interviews and conducting business-as-usual reports?
Yes, they do, because Wednesday’s verdict has the power to bring people together. It signaled the start of a new day, after all, one for contemplation, self-flagellation and mini-civil wars between the “companions” and professional antifascists.