ATHENS (JTA) — The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party defied predictions and won nearly 7 percent of the vote in the Greek national elections.
Polls and Greek commentators had predicted that support for the fascist party, which entered the Greek Parliament for the first time in inconclusive elections six weeks ago, would drop in Sunday’s election, saying the original vote was a protest against the established political parties held responsible for Greece’s economic crisis.
The conservative New Democracy Party, which supports Greece staying in the European Union and honoring its commitments under bailouts it received, won the most votes in results released Monday and likely will form the new government.
Golden Dawn, with its Nazi swastika-like flag and Holocaust-denying leader, picked up 6.92 percent of the vote, which will give the party 19 lawmakers in the 300-member parliament. The party had won 6.97 percent of the earlier vote.
“It shows we were all wrong and that this is the real percentage of people who support them with their anti-illegal immigrant policy and their Nazi style that they show the people,” David Saltiel, president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, told JTA.
“It is a problem for Greek democracy, and we have to see how the parties will react. We hope they will isolate them.”
Golden Dawn had campaigned on an anti-austerity, anti-immigrant platform, preying on the fears of ordinary Greeks who have seen their neighborhoods overrun by the nearly 1 million immigrants who have flooded the country from Asia and Africa hoping to use it as a gateway to the European Union.
After the first election, Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos — who came to prominence when he won a seat on the Athens City Council in 2010 and celebrated by giving the Nazi salute at the first City Hall meeting — gave an interview in which he denied the existence of gas chambers at Nazi death camps.