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Anti-immigrant parties grow in Greece amid economic woes

Greece's economic crisis has grown into a full fledged social crisis that has spawned a backlash against mainstream politicians and immigrants, a situation that has witnessed the rise of extremist politics.

golden dawn membersEnlarge
Members of the 'Golden Dawn' nationalist group hold a copy of the Greek sixth-grade history book before burning it, while protesting in Athens during the celebrations of the Greek Independence Day. (Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images)

Greece's economic woes have not only meant financial instability but also political and societal instability.

There is growing concern in the country that the extremist right-wing party, Golden Dawn, is quickly gaining popularity in the embattled nation.

According to the New York Times, polls suggest that the neo-nazi Golden Dawn may pass the three percent marker needed to enter the Greek Parliament.

The party, which began as a movement better known for clashing with immigrants in downtown Athens, is the only one campaigning on the streets before the May 6 election as others fear that their candidates will not be safe from violence.

Illegal immigrants into Greece are a central concern as last year the Greek-Turkish border became the largest entry point into Europe.

Greece likely has hundreds of the thousands of illegal immigrants who mostly rely on street vending and petty crime to survive.

An Austrian newspaper Die Presse recently wrote an article concerning the Greek elections entitled “Extremists Spring,” forshadowing fears that, pushed to the brink, Greeks will vote increasingly for a party that believes immigrants should be deported immediately, the Holocaust was a lie, and theories of Greek racial superiority.

Concerned at the growing number of members in Golden Dawn and the possibility that they would enter parliament, a top Greek politician warned, according to UPI, that "parliament cannot become a place for those who long for facism and nazism."

As parties like Golden Dawn ratchet up anti-immigrant rhetoric ahead of the elections, the Greek socialist party and the New Democracy Party have followed suit.

“Greek society at this point is a laboratory of extreme-right-wing evolution,” said Nicos Demertzis, a political scientist at the University of Athens, said the New York Times.

“We are going through an unprecedented financial crisis; we are a fragmented society without strong civil associations” and with “generalized corruption in all the administration levels.”

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120414/anti-immigrant-parties-grow-greece-amid-economic-woes