I don't know what's more unsettling--the demagogic rant delivered here by Golden Dawn Party leader Nikolaos Nichaloliakos, or the part before the rant, when his advance team intimidates journalists into standing as he enters the room. In any event, the Greeks had better get used to this kind of spectacle, because Golden Dawn will, after yesterday's election, have a presence in parliament. I have a couple of thoughts below the video player.
The good news is that most extremist parties that rear their ugly heads wind up doing little more than that--and Golden Dawn's 21 seats in a 300-seat parliament don't exactly give it a commanding position. But two things are troubling:
1) The collapse of the mainstream parties. The New Democracy and Pasok parties--which in 2009 got a combined 77 percent of the vote--yesterday got a total of no more than 40 percent. Extremists find it easier to occupy the limelight when there's no consensus alternative.
2) The last time a Nazi party succeeded in actually gaining power in Europe, it was after crippling austerity had been imposed on the country by other countries.
In that light, maybe it's good that in France, the country best positioned to persuade Germany that there's such a thing as overly austere European economic policies, the anti-austerity party won.
I should add, for the record, that Golden Dawn rejects the "neo-Nazi" label. But whatever you call the party, there are many reports of its footsoldiers walking around assaulting immigrants for the crime of being immigrants. And note that in the video above, the party leader says, "For those who betray this homeland, the time has come to fear." No doubt he's the one who gets to define "betraying the homeland."