Neo-Nazi party crashes out of parliament in Greek general election

Golden Dawn, the far-right, anti-immigrant party that had shocked Greek politics by evolving from a marginal, violent neo-Nazi group into Greece’s third-largest party during the country’s economic crisis, was knocked out of Parliament in the last national election.

With nearly 95 percent of precincts reporting, Golden Dawn had 2.95% of the votes, just under the 3% threshold needed to win representation in Parliament.

The government’s official pollster declared that the party had no chance to enter Parliament, and party leader Nikos Mihaloliakos admitted as much when he declared in a fiery concession speech that “Golden Dawn is not finished.”

Golden Dawn had 18 lawmakers in the outgoing 300-member Parliament, having won 6.99% of the votes in the previous national election.

“We are sending a message to our enemies and so-called friends: Golden Dawn is not finished, get over it. The fight for nationalism continues. We return where we became strong: on the streets and squares, in a tough struggle against Bolshevism and the coming savage capitalism,” Mihaloliakos told a crowd of supporters.

He attacked both the outgoing prime minister, leftist Alexis Tsipras, and his incoming successor, conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Mihaloliakos ended his speech with his customary “Hail victory!” — a direct reference to the Nazis’ “Sieg heil” salutation.

Founded in 1985, Golden Dawn was known for years as a collection of violent youths obsessed with military bearing and ready to attack political opponents and then increasingly migrants, as Greece became a destination for the latter.

Golden Dawn’s appeal long remained insignificant, polling just 0.29% in 2009. But as Greece’s economic crisis unfolded, the party achieved a breakthrough in 2010 municipal elections, getting its first elected officials and scoring best in neighborhoods with a heavy migrant presence.

It won its first seats in Parliament in 2012, and in four successive national elections held from 2012 to 2015 it got around 7% of the votes. Its high point came in the 2014 European elections, when it polled 9.39% to become Greece’s third-largest party — a position it retained in national elections in 2015.

Golden Dawn’s weakening become apparent in the last European election, when it got only 4.87% and slipped into fifth place among Greece’s parties. A new party on the far-right, Greek Solution, less extreme and apparently less menacing, may have siphoned away rightist support. It is projected to win 10 seats in the new Parliament.

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