Last night, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras celebrated his second parliamentary victory in less than a year. With nearly all votes counted, his left-wing party, SYRIZA, had received a little less than 36 percent of ballots, while the right-leaning New Democracy came in second with roughly 28 percent. The third-largest party in Greece remains the neo-Nazi organization Golden Dawn, which swept up about 7 percent of votes.
It's estimated that roughly 500,000 people voted for Golden Dawn, one of the most far-right political parties in Europe, whose leader is currently facing proceedings for directing a criminal organization. The latest polls show that 16.6 percent of the country's unemployed voted for the party. Golden Dawn's popularity has also doubled in islands like Lesbos and Kos, where thousands of refugees have been arriving daily. Before the Greek financial crisis, GD were only receiving 0.5 percent of the vote, but this vote, with Greece feeling the effects of economic despair and the refugee crisis, they managed to become the only party that didn't lose any power in terms of absolute numbers of voters.
Last week, the organization's leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, publicly accepted the political responsibility for the 2013 murder of left-wing rapper Pavlos Fyssas. Many believed that such a confession would lead to a nosedive in the party's ratings, but, on the contrary, the far-right party managed to gain more power than in January's elections—from 6.28 percent all the way up to about 7 percent.
"Golden Dawn is now a movement of power. It's no longer a protest movement," Ilias Kasidiaris, Golden Dawn's spokesman, told Star TV. That said, in April, most of Golden Dawn's leadership were arrested for running a criminal organization.
"There haven't been any unsuspecting Golden Dawn voters since Autumn of 2013, when the press concentrated on the criminal activity of the organization," Dimitris Psaras—author of The Black Book of Golden Dawn—told VICE last Thursday.
Golden Dawn aside, what was noticeable in last night's election was the rate of absence; voter turnout was the lowest in Greece's history. Only 56 percent of those eligible to vote showed up, compared to 63.6 percent last January—a fact that alludes to the public's increasing distrust in politics and a growing sense that the country has lost its sovereignty to its international creditors.
Earlier this year, Tsipras—after months of intense discussions with the country's creditors—made a U-turn on his initial promises and accepted a new package of budget cuts, tax increases, and other austere measures in return for about $96.8 billion in aid. However, even if many commentators suggest that the lower turnout helped SYRIZA win, everybody agrees that it's a huge personal victory for Tsipras, especially after the chaotic conditions of this summer that saw the implementation of bank withdrawal limits.
Yesterday, Tsipras renewed his party's alliance with the right-wing Independent Greeks and its leader Panos Kammenos, who received 3.69 percent of the votes. Within the next three days, they will form a new government. Together, the two parties will hold the majority, with 155 of a total 300 Parliament seats. According to the Guardian, EU officials reacted to the news of Tsipras's win with thinly-veiled comfort; sources claimed there was relief that the left-wing party would remain in government and apply policies, rather than rabble-rousing in the streets.
Want to know more about Golden Dawn? Here's some of the things they are into.