Dimitris Rapidis

Caught him for good?


Greek pollster GPO published on daily Kathimerini on 13.10.13 a very interesting opinion poll regarding the position and appeal of Golden Dawn in the Greek society, especially after the latest developments with the sentence of the party’s general secretary and one more MPs. The study is stunning as it is concluded that Golden Dawn seems to preserve or even grow its percentage, despite harsh polemic by Greek and foreign media.

First of all and before going down to the analysis, it is essential to underline our firm standpoint against any kind of analysis over opinion polls for ethical reasons. Nonetheless, we believe that this specific poll brings some light and considerable information that was meticulously hidden one year now from almost the entity of the media, digital and conventional. In other words, our approach stems from the fact that the debate over the origin of voters and the appeal of Golden Dawn in the Greek society was never scientifically measured under the shadow of the alleged criminal record of part of its members and MPs, as well as from the ideology that this party represents.

The study of GPO comes to some fundamental conclusions: first, the majority of the voters and / or supporters of Golden Dawn ideologically place themselves as “centrists” in a percentage of over 50%. In addition to that, from this percentage over 20% of expressing their support to Golden Dawn are people working in the private sector, whereas the rest is partitioned amongst unemployed, pensioners, and self-employed. The second fact is that the majority of the voters being proclaimed as ideologically “centrists” are scaled between 25-55 years old, being in most educated and medium-waged. The third fact is that in the vote intention measurement, Golden Dawn concentrates higher electorate percentage than the one achieved in the double elections of May-June 2012. Whereas last year the percentage was 6.92%, the study of GPO indicates that this rate reaches over 8.5%.

Another key element of the study of GPO is the fact that many of the voters or supporters of Golden Dawn prefer to “hide” their identity, thus mingling the outcome of some aspects of the poll analysis and outcome. This significant and sort of generic drawback of the poll stems from the fact that many people are afraid of being outspoken and unveil their electoral preference. Historically and based on previous evidence from other opinion polls in other countries and even in different subjects, people hesitate to make their preferences clear when they tend to support an idea, product or policy, or having a certain belief about something, that it is not widely supported or at least publicly acceptable. This specific variable partially blurs the outcome of the polls and widens the gap of uncertainly over the accuracy of a certain poll. The study of GPO falls exactly into this category.

But linking this ” measurement deficiency” with the publicity effect of taboo topics from the media, we come to some certain conclusions that are widely applied: The more a certain taboo topic is unveiled and discussed in public, the more the public gets informed and, thus, becomes more critical. In this respect, the level and quality of information provided by a certain media market about a certain taboo topic and its effect on the public opinion are equally dependent on how rational and plural a media, reportage or analysis tends to be. In many cases, when the media decide to be monolithic or biased, even against the most daring and disgusting criminal, there is always a risk of a major backlash from the public opinion. I certainly reckon upon this delicate approach and point out that in the case of the arrests of Golden Dawn’s general secretary and MPs, the Greek media presented the issue from a fiercely biased perspective, positioning themselves from informers to magistrates and prosecutors, and therefore losing the strongest characteristic and power of their vocation: the right of informing the public.

Nonetheless, dealing with the poll made by GPO, there are also two major questions that have not been yet incorporated in recent polls: the first is “why did you choose to vote and / or support Golden Dawn?“, and the second could be “what is the area / department / municipality you exert your electoral right?“. I consider both questions as illuminating and literally supporting the research over the appeal of Golden Dawn for a number of reasons. First of all, Golden Dawn had primarily based its campaign during the previous elections in two basic pillars: the fight against illegal immigrants, and the fight against the corrupted political establishment and austerity politics. Both pillars find significant public support today, with the latter being more imminent and timely than ever. The second reason lies on the fact that Golden Dawn achieved to reach high electoral support in some of the old-rampants of monarchy and conservatism in Greece (i.e. Peloponnese and Euboea Island), but also in the second district of capital Athens, in regions that are densely populated by immigrants and where anti-immigrant feelings grow. Therefore, the current poll of GPO, should it take into account the areas of voting, could bring more specific results regarding the profile of the party’s supporters.

Overall, we need to highlight that according to our perspective, the phenomenon of Golden Dawn is not unique in European politics, apart from all local features and specialties that might entail. Racism and civic hatred against immigrants, as well as a widespread negation and unrest against austerity politics, or a strong partition and fragmentation between the poor and the wealthy states of Europe might considerably get nourished by extreme political behaviors.

At the end of the day, extreme right parties not only grow in debt-and-unemployment-ridden Greece, but also in Austria, Netherlands, France, Germany, and Hungary, amid other member-states. It is a European disease that demands serious and lasting acts of engagement by the European Union and its representatives bodies. The debate running up to the European Elections of 2014 should definitely get focused on this top-priority issue.

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  1. Hi
    Thank you, Dimitris, for sharing this with us. Can we make this a pan-European debate (and indeed not an exclusively Greek one) since similar movements are on the rise everywhere and similar disconnects between popular discontents and offical wisdom exist in all our countries. What are the possibilities to engage in critical dialogue with the Golden Dawn, True Fins, Madame Le Pen, mr Wilders voters in Europe and get a clearer picture of what people who disagree with their policies can actually do to change this right-wing mood.
    Godelieve van Heteren chair European Movement in the Netherlands (EBN)

    1. Dear Mrs. van Heteren,

      Thank you very much for your comment. I definitely agree with you about the necessity of a broader debate.
      Is this your mail we can get further in contact?


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