In a table full of winners, the only loser was Democracy: European elections in Greece or how not to talk about the Far Right

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In order to vote by post for the European elections, we Greeks abroad received a booklet with instructions (as it was the first time this system was implemented) which included a chapter on what are European elections (!), and why they are important. Even though I initially laughed it off, given the elections’ results apparently there was a reason for this chapter to be there, albeit directed to the wrong audience (the ones who had actually registered to vote): because -with about 60% of the population not going to vote, Greece marked the highest abstention rate in the Metapolitefsi era (the period after the military junta). Media panelists, journalists, and politicians alike would blame it on the hot weather (which is absurd for a country that constantly holds elections during its hot summers, the crucial referendum of 2015 included), saying that people preferred to go to the beach as if it is a valid argument. In fact, it is something we have almost legitimized as Greek society throughout the years, and it is no coincidence that during election TV coverage, along with the correspondents that are reporting from the different political parties’ headquarters, there is always one reporting from a beach of the Athenian riviera; that says a lot about our political culture and education.

All of the Greek television channels that I could stream from Poland would host panels where everyone was a winner: everyone supposedly scored exactly what they were expecting to, and everyone had good takeaways from their electoral result. The governing party New Democracy was attempting to convince that it achieved its goals and is still enjoying the support and trust of the Greek people with its 28.31%, even though it was claiming a 40% like in last year’s parliamentary elections before the June 9th; likewise, Syriza was celebrating its 14.92% despite them feeling confident that they would at least get 20% pre-election, and PASOK (the Socialist Party), a party that has governed Greece multiple times during a significant part of the Metapolitefsi, was claiming to be proud of its mere 12.7% (though it is an improvement from last year’s elections). In all panels, everyone was a winner, and while they were debating on who was more of a winner, everyone was neglecting how the biggest loser was actually our Democracy.

With this point, what I would like to shift the emphasis to, though, is the elephant in the room, no other than the Far Right, a topic which was treated rather poorly by the Greek media in my point of view. Comparing and contrasting the media coverage and panel debates from the exit polls to the late-night hours by three different Greek mainstream television channels, there are some points that I found particularly problematic:

“We are not like the rest of Europe”

How pick-me of ours to be comparing our country to the dire situation of the rise of the Far Right in the rest of Europe to show how we are far better off than other countries. The case that was instrumentalized by most of the panelists was France, where the electoral success of Rassemblement National has shaken the political spectrum to its core and caused, among others, the dissolution of the National Assembly. But reassuring ourselves that we are not France does not make the rise of the Far Right in Greece any less relevant or non-existent: in this election, the Greeks voted for three populist radical right parties that will consequently be represented in the European Parliament: ultra-orthodox, patriotic (sugarcoating racist), and (summing it up) anti-woke Elliniki Lysi (Greek Solution), Niki (Victory), and first-timer Foni Logikis (Voice of Reason). Receiving 9.45%, 4.41%, and 3.06% of the votes respectively, those extreme right parties make up for 16.92% of the population. The phenomenon of the Far Right being a research interest of mine, I am being very prudent with the terminology that I use, but let’s see what terms the media and panel guests attributed to those parties…

From left to right: Dimitris Natsios (Niki), Afroditi Latinopoulou (Foni Logikis), Kyriakos Velopoulos (Elliniki Lysi)

“To the right of New Democracy”

For people who pretend not to be that afraid of the rise of the Far Right, I do not understand why we refrain from calling it as such. It was notable how, almost in every panel discussion on the night of June 9th, everyone was calling those parties “the parties to the Right of New Democracy” (New Democracy being a center-right party). This characterization is dangerous, as it can imply different things to the ears of Greek voters: either that if voters feel that they belong to the ideological spectrum of the Right but are not satisfied with or just dislike New Democracy should vote for those parties, or that all right-wing voters should vote for New Democracy to avoid these parties (a disproportional benefit for New Democracy, and even if in the short-term it may seem an efficient way to tackle the Far Right, in the long run, voting with the process of elimination is not the ideal solution).


Second, those parties were referred to as anti-establishment parties, a term that normally encompasses parties both from the Right and the Left of the political spectrum; all of them are anti-establishment, but not all of them are equally dangerous. Besides, to the extent that the Far Right vote is not always an ideological one but oftentimes a protest vote, it is problematic to use such a term that implies that if indignant voters wish to punish the establishment they should vote for those parties. We should call it by its name, and it is the Far Right.

“Was it the gay marriage law?”

Trying to establish a reason why the vote of the right-wing voters may have shifted from New Democracy to these far-right parties, the mainstream media discourse concluded with a verdict: it is the legalization of gay marriage and adoption in February that is to blame. Again, the protest vote on the grounds of, perhaps, the tragedy of the railway multi-victim accident at Tempi, the ever-increasing cost of living, or the emerging issues regarding press freedom in Greece, was not at all taken into consideration. Besides that, the mainstream media consciously decided to provide a monocausal explanation of the rise of the Far Right in the country, putting the blame on New Democracy; and worse of all, not because of something problematic that it did in its governance, but for proposing and adopting a progressive law related to human rights. Simply put, from the Greek media point of view, it is being progressive that is to blame for the Far Right’s electoral success.

“Illegal migrants”

One of the most disappointing moments of the night was when Afroditi Latinopoulou, the leader of far-right Foni Logikis (mentioned above) started repeatedly using the term “illegal migrants” instead of “irregular migrants” from her very first moments in one of the panels. What was even more disappointing though, was that no one corrected her for more than half an hour straight, until a MP of the Socialist Party (not that his political affiliation matters in this instance) arrived and stated what should have been obvious. Of course, what else could be expected from the person who characterizes women with body hair and stretch marks unsightly and icky and considers that men are more and more emasculated and that the “promotion of the gay agenda” is alienating us from our true values?

Afroditi Latinopoulou  ( )

Nevertheless, as she was continuously reassuring everyone, her opinions are not of the extreme right, but of the patriotic right (even center-right as she dared say at some point, calling New Democracy a party of the center-left!), inviting us to join her in the Matrix. Afroditi Latinopoulou will be Greece’s addition to the ECR party of the European Parliament, as she wishes to cooperate with other “patriots of the Center-Right” such as Giorgia Meloni and Marine Le Pen.

As a concluding remark, I will restrain myself by just saying that “not being like France” doesn’t make our European elections results any less alarming, not only when it comes to voter behavior and media discourse but also regarding our social capital globally; it may be convenient to ignore unwanted guests when they are insistently ringing our doorbell, but we should not be surprised when they eventually pass our doorstep, because the signs were there all along…

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