Neo-Nazi Showing in Greek Local Elections Underscores Need for Human Rights Reform

Athens, Greece – Human Rights First today called for the United States to renew efforts to combat antisemitism and defend the human rights of migrants and other vulnerable minorities in Greece following a local election on Sunday, in which 16 percent of Athenians voted for a neo-Nazi candidate from the Golden Dawn Party.

A leftist alliance is projected to win the election overall after a runoff election next Sunday, but the Golden Dawn mayoral candidate, who sports swastika tattoos and once read from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion on the floor of the Greek Parliament, is estimated to have won 16 percent of the vote, more than double the party’s overall 6.9 percent showing in the 2012 parliamentary elections. Another candidate for the prefecture of Attica, who has made antisemitic and homophobic statements, won 11 percent of the vote. Final results are expected later today.

“Yesterday’s vote is not just a referendum on European austerity policies, it’s also a frightening indicator of how a fascist and violent party can work its way into the political mainstream on a platform of hatred for immigrants, racism, antisemitism, and homophobia,” Human Rights First’s Sonni Efron, part of a team currently in Greece.

The Golden Dawn Party showing comes on the heels of Hungarian elections last month in which the neo-fascist Jobbik Party won 21 percent of the vote. Far-right parties across Europe are expected to do well in European Parliament elections on May 25, and could form alliances that would undermine European human rights and democratic norms from within. Golden Dawn is projected to win one or two European Parliament seats, although its leadership is under investigation for running a criminal organization.

Authorities in Greece must redouble efforts to conduct credible prosecutions of Golden Dawn leaders and others responsible for hundreds of hate attacks over the last several years, mostly against migrants but also Roma and LGBT persons. The United States and the European Union should do everything possible to strengthen Greece’s capacity to investigate and prosecute hate crimes in keeping with the highest judicial standards.

“The Greek government has a duty to protect the human rights of every person inside their country,” noted Efron.  “But the United States and European Union must also step up to help vulnerable populations, including refugees and migrants, who face a climate of hatred and abuse once they arrive in Greece.”


Published on May 19, 2014


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