Right-Wing-Extremism in the Course of the Crisis. European Elections, Greece and the Residual South European States Cover Image
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Rechtsextremismus im Zeichen der Krise. Europawahlen, Griechenland und die übrigen Staaten Südeuropas
Right-Wing-Extremism in the Course of the Crisis. European Elections, Greece and the Residual South European States

Author(s): Heinz-Jürgen Axt
Subject(s): Politics / Political Sciences
Published by: Südosteuropa Gesellschaft e.V.

Summary/Abstract: The European Parliament elections of May 2014 as well as national elections in the recent past have made it evident that right-wing-extremism is able to profit from the financial, sovereign debt and banking crisis. As far as the peripheral EU member states in South Europe are concerned such political parties – particularly in Greece, and to some extent also in Italy – have been successful. On the other hand this was not the case in Portugal and Spain. That divergence raises the question what the specific difference is between these countries and the attitudes of their citizens. To answer this question five variables are tested: (i) severity of the financial crisis, (ii) social consequences of the crisis, (iii) perceptions, (iv) trust in the political system and (v) features of the political culture. Selected data from Eurostat and Eurobarometer underpin a clear line of argument. The data reveal that the crisis in Greece was the most severe one. Social consequences (such as unemployment) were nearly on the same level in Greece and in Spain, but did not result in equally negative perceptions, with the Greek experiences much more negative than the Spanish. The same must be stated when peoples’ trust in their political systems is analysed. Citizens in Greece tended to victimize their politicians whereas the integration capacity of democratic parties functioned more or less in the remaining countries. And finally xenophobic attitudes spread in Greece more widely than in the other countries. The lesson learned must therefore be the following: Crises are an essential, but not a sufficient explanation to understand the chances of right-wing-extremists profiting from its consequences and impact.

  • Issue Year: 2014
  • Issue No: 03
  • Page Range: 28-49
  • Page Count: 22
  • Language: German