Far right’s suspended step

Giorgos Karadzaferis has every interest in claiming that 13.6 percent is a positive electoral outcome. He is trying to carve out a career as a political leader by playing the extreme-right card, adapted to Greek conditions. Yiannis Tzannetakos’s candidacy has provided Karadzaferis his golden opportunity to win a substantial chunk of the vote and get into the spotlight. But the vast majority of those who voted for Karadzaferis are not a new breed of extreme right-wingers. They are traditional rightists, supporters of the New Democracy party who chose this way to oppose Tzannetakos. If ND had fielded another candidate, the gains of Karadzaferis, a former ND deputy, would have been negligible. It is reasonable to assume that these voters will return to the ND fold in national elections. The crucial question is how many will not, but will remain with the LAOS party. The new far right, with a considerable presence in many European countries, provides political consolation for the masses, with its slogans against foreigners as well as against the system generally. This right is vegetating in Greece, but it is clear that the socioeconomic conditions that nurture these views are emerging. That does not mean, however, that Karadzaferis will achieve success. After World War II, Greece’s far right was traditionally anti-communist and establishment-oriented, linked to state mechanisms, or else operating outside the system. The fall of the dictatorship in 1974 reduced its adherents, many finding a home with ND. This only strengthened our democratic system, for they generally adapted to ND’s political-ideological framework. Karadzaferis, a political opportunist, is trying to draw from the reserves of the traditional far right to build a new version of it. Much will depend on whether PASOK will be tempted to strengthen it with its attacks, in an effort to weaken ND on its right. Mitterrand did that with Le Pen, and his own party suffered in the end.