Austerity Supporters Suffer Defeats Across Europe-- But It Was A Big Day For The Nazis Yesterday... In Greece
Friday night, after just 2 months in office, Romania's right-wing Austerity government lost a no confidence vote and stepped down. But yesterday, everyone was watching as France angrily voted Sarkozy (the Berlin-backed candidate) out of office-- Europe's 11th head of government to lose since the bankster's' economic crisis. François Hollande is France's first Socialist president in almost two decades. He won with 51.9%. And in Germany itself, Schleswig-Holstein's voters ejected Angela Merkel's CDU-FDP alliance that has run the state since 2009. But Greece, which has been under the yoke of the Hun again, also went to the polls, although they were sternly warned by Herr Finanzminister, Wolfgang Schäuble, that they'd better not try to pull anything... oder sonst! E.U. membership, he threatened ominously, is "voluntary"... and someone's going to "bear the consequences" if this stupid democracy thing doesn't work out the way Berlin (and Wall Street) would like to see it work out. It didn't work out the way the banksters had hoped-- not at all.
Greece has been a mess, caught up in the clutches of International Finance (ironic way to refer to Germany, don't you think?)-- with no escape in sight. That means no escape from Austerity. The misery these fiends are forcing Greek working families into is called "belt tightening" by the corporate media, but it has been absolutely devastating to the people and the country. One in five workers is unemployed and salaries and pensions have been slashed by as much as 40%. And the Germans are demanding much, much more drastic... belt-tightening. But no political party can campaign on that premise and expect to win... which is why the two major parties were devastated in the elections yesterday.
The polls put centre-right New Democracy in the lead with 17-20% of the vote, down from 33.5% in 2009.
Centre-left Pasok is put in third place with 14-17%, down from 43.9%. Syriza, a left-wing coalition, is put ahead of it in second place with 15.5-18.5%.
In American terms, New Democracy is like the Republican Party (only not as extreme) and Pasok is like the Democrats. They were planning on forming a Grand Coalition after the election to pass more Austerity garbage-- like Obama's Grand Bargain-- but there is now a question of where or not they even have the votes-- together to do it!
So why don't the Greeks just give the Germans and the banksters-- well, the German banksters, basically-- the finger and tell them to go shove their "loans" (loans to pay themselves) up their asses, sort of what Iceland did? The voters did but the two big political parties don't have the balls, which has a lot to do with why Greek voters abandoned them and why there was no clear-cut winner yesterday. Both the big parties are seen as filled with corrupt careerists and lackeys of the German banksters, who really do seem to be getting more and more serious about trying to force Greece to sell off some islands to repay them. Austerity is hated by everyone and the collaborationist center-left Pasok was cut to pieces by Alexis Tsipras' anti-Austerity Syriza, an array of the working family left and green groups.
But with an election being fought over a mixture of the economy, immigration and national humiliation, it seemed almost inevitable that far right extremism would gain a big foothold. Friday, Daniel Howden wrote a prescient piece for the Irish Independent, Fascist group Golden Dawn rises from the depths of Greece's despair. And, of course, this is always the danger when the Establishment starts to collapse. Scared, ignorant and bigoted voters won't turn towards the left but towards the purveyors of fear, ignorance and bigotry-- and, in Greece, like in America, that's on the right. Imagine this is a post about Arizona:
It started, as many days do in Greece, with a trip to the kiosk to buy cigarettes.
Still half-asleep, Panayiotis Roumeliotis was surprised to be asked to show his identity card by two young men with shaved heads.
It was his first direct contact with the vigilante groups that have become a feature of everyday life in some areas of the Greek capital.
"They were calling themselves the residents association but they were just fasistakia (little fascists)," said the 28-year-old.
Over the last two years, Mr Roumeliotis has watched the central Athens neighbourhood of Ayios Panteleimonas, where he grew up, undergo an ugly transformation.
Taking the bus on another morning soon after, a gunshot shattered the back window and a gang of men forced the driver to stop.
When the doors opened, they came on to the bus and started to assault the non-Greek passengers.
The attackers were wearing T-shirts from the right-wing extremist group Golden Dawn.
While panicked people were trying to escape from the bus the men were hitting them with flagpoles.
"They were beating people with the Greek flag," said Mr Roumeliotis.
When the police arrived they stood off until the thugs had finished. When he asked the police why no one had been arrested one of the officers replied to him: "Why, did they do something to you?"
Formerly a solid middle-class neighbourhood, the economic crisis and waves of new arrivals have changed the area and erased old certainties.
Property prices here have dropped to as little as one quarter of what they were five years ago. The Greeks who could afford to have left. For rent signs are plastered over almost every one of the area's shabby five-storey apartment blocks. On the side streets among the North African-run mini markets and Nigerian internet cafes, newcomers from West Africa push shopping trolleys full of scrap metal stripped from deserted buildings. Large-scale drug dealing has overtaken an entire street in the neighbourhood. Violent crime has rocketed.
The square in front of the local church, daubed in anti-immigrant slogans such as "foreigners don't fit in our square," has witnessed pitch battles between anarchists and Golden Dawn supporters.
Among the Greeks who remain, Mr. Roumeliotis' own circumstances are fairly typical. He was made redundant from the "job for life" that his grandfather had got for him at the state-run airline Olympic Airways. Of his 10 closest friends, eight are unemployed.
Anger against the socialists and the conservatives, who have swapped power since the end of the dictatorship in 1974, has been building to unprecedented proportions. The former airline steward said he would not be supporting the fascists himself, but that other family members may well be doing so.
"People here have been forgotten by the government," said Mr. Roumeliotis. "They have done nothing about immigration." The skinheads are now talked of as "good boys" who are looking out for their community. What was happening in Ayios Panteleimonas-- which has the highest concentration of immigrants in Athens-- came to the attention of the rest of Greece when members of Golden Dawn were voted on to its local council.
Until recently, developments in the neighbourhood were seen as dangerous but largely irrelevant to the national scene. At Greece's last general election in 2009 Golden Dawn, whose members use the Nazi salute and whose party symbol is an adapted swastika, polled fewer than 20,000 votes nationwide. Now as the country goes to the polls on Sunday, national politics more closely resemble those of the embattled area.
Entering its fourth year in recession, Greece now outstrips even Spain for youth unemployment with the new statistics published yesterday showing joblessness among the under-25s at 51.2 per cent. The headline unemployment rate is 21.7 per cent while the real rate is believed to be closer to 25 per cent.
It's in this environment that a fringe group of neo-Nazis that would previously have struggled to attract a hundred supporters to one of its rallies seems set to enter parliament according to polls.
Together with two other ultra-nationalist parties, LAOS and Independent Greeks, some surveys indicate that the far right could take as much as one-fifth of the vote on Sunday.
It actually turned out worse for the conventional ruling parties than anyone predicted. Even if they were to combined in this cockamamie Grand Coalition, they don't have the votes to form and sustain a government. The center-right party, New Democracy, is in first place with 18.85%-- 108 seats in the 300-member Parliament. Pasok, the center-left party can only bring in another 41 seats, tops (13.4% of the vote). Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left, came in second with 16.78%-- 52 seats. And they're not getting into bed with anyone who's playing footsie with the German banksters. Their leader, Man-of-the-Moment Alexis Tsipras (as seen last night on the left), has opposed paying back Greece’s debt and is demanding the whiole horrid deal be scrapped even if it means leaving the Eurozone. New Democracy has three days to form a viable coalition, starting today. If he fails, Tsipras gets a shot at it. And if that fails too... another round of elections!
It takes 3% of the vote to be eligible to win seats in Parliament. In the last general election, in 2009, Golden Dawn took just .029%. This time they won around 7%-- so a European Parliament will have actual Nazi deputies-- as far right as Arizona Republicans-- for the first time since Hitler was defeated. The head of the party, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, told the media after yesterday's vote that "No one should fear me if they are a good Greek citizen. If they are traitors-- I don't know." Flanked by muscled thugs, he crowed that "Those who betray this country-- it's time for them to be afraid. We are coming... We will fight to free Greece from the global loan sharks, for a Greece of dignity and independence, and for a Greece that is not a social jungle with all these millions of illegal immigrants that were brought here."
One of the 21 new neo-Nazi lawmakers is Elias Panayiotaros, who ran in central Athens. Much like right-wing Republicans in the US. His message is that it's all the immigrants' faults and that the national priority should be to throw them all out. "All of the immigrants are illegal, even the ones that have been in the country for a long time," he hisses menacingly, "and they have to be punished." All through the election campaign he claimed immigrants were on a spree of robberies, rapes and murder and that Greeks were afraid to leave their homes. The cost of jailing or deporting more than a million people would be offset, he promised, by putting them into work camps. Those that were not prepared to work could starve... to death. Does that sound like Arizona? Alabama? "We're not afraid to be called Nazis or fascists," boasted Panayiotaros.
UPDATE: Italy Too
Italy was a little late reporting the results of local election yesterday but the German puppet regime headed by unelected Prime Minister Mario Monti got a big thumbs down for the German Austerity plans he's imposing on Italy. Berlusconi's party-- which supports Monti-- suffered widespread losses. Italy's version of the Democratic Party also lost seats.
Painful tax hikes, pension cuts and unpopular labor reforms have fuelled mounting opposition to Monti since he came to power last year with a mandate to save Italy from a Greek-style debt emergency. He has placed increasing emphasis on reforms to promote growth in his recent public comments... Across the country, there were big gains for opposition or protest candidates, while abstention levels were also up in a sign of growing disaffection with the political process and all the main parties.