July 21, 2012
Greece is regarded the first victim of the financial and political crisis in terms of racist feelings. The recent elections o June 17th have led to the rise of the racist party called Xrysi Aygi which expresses all aspects and policies against immigrants and race discrimination, promising to bring honesty to the Greek politics and job to unemployed Greeks. But what is stood behind this shift?
Extreme austerity measures combined with lack of growth policies, unemployment, rising consumer prices, poverty, and distrustful political leadership are considered as the major elements fostering racism in Greece. Recent polls suggest that the racist party is still unlike any other party the only one that in case election were to take place now, it would increase its electoral percentage significantly. Hard to say, but yes, the deep recession sweeping the country is fundamentally linked with splitting feelings of the electorate against the political leadership which is regarded as incapable of controlling the train of downturn. It is not the problem of excessive and in many times illegal immigration in Greece that has pushed voters to support extremism, but the actual financial conditions.
Spain is now gathering the lights of attention as its austerity program does not seem to bring long-term results and its macroeconomic facts seem to reach deadlock. Unemployment reaching almost 26%, clashes and riots sweeping the cities, anxiety and unrest overrunning social cohesion are amid the most crucial side-effects of the crisis.
Italy is also heading towards similar deadlocks as Monti’s austerity measures temporarily keep down anxiety of markets but have nothing to do with real reforms in growth policies and macroeconomic indicators. The lately expected return of Berlusconi as frontliner in Italian politics, presented as the one that can retake Italy’s hand and push it ahead, can only be seen as a step back in Italian politics.
Both Spain and Italy have traditional remnants of racism and fascism dated back in the years of Mussolini’s and Franco’s legacy. Such “reflexes” are still alive in the conscience of citizens and it is in such cases that get invigorated and pulled into surface. Greece is actually faced with sporadic phenomena of racism and street violence prescribed as the result of economic discontent and NOT as the result of mere discrimination and racism against immigrants. But yet this perplexed situation that attributes economic hardship to the existence of illegal immigrants taking the jobs of Greeks remains unclear in the minds of an increasing part of the electorate as the critical cause of unemployment, and therefore of poverty.
All things considered, economic recession is gradually widening its sphere of influence in the deepest political reflexes of the masses. Therefore, along with the financial advancement needed, the political personnel should also undertake the role of clarifying and reminding once more what the devastating consequences of racism and extremism were in the 1940s and what a possible widespread revival could bring ahead for the future of Europe.Dimitris Rapidis