Audio recording of interview with Kelly, 27 October 2012: Why I voted for the Golden Dawn.
Last week, I went to Athens for several days with a friend called Abi Ramanan. We interviewed as many people as we could about the economic crisis, service cuts and the rise of fascism. We’ll be publishing a number of articles about the experience – we have one in particular that focuses on the racism and warnings about her safety that Abi had to contend with and that I – because I am white – did not. In some respects, our trip had an air of segregation about it.
Abi first called me in about March this year to suggest the trip. She’d just visited Athens, where she’d been interviewing people about the appalling results of austerity there. She knew that I was interviewing people around the UK who were on the sharp end of this government’s cuts – people who were losing care services, benefits, homes and any hope of rescue – and wanted to know if I’d join her on another visit to Athens, to talk to more people and compare cuts stories from Greece with cuts stories in the UK.
I thought that idea had plenty of merit. Making contacts across the continent and swapping notes and plans for fightback seemed a sensible move, particularly as austerity continues to march Europe deeper into poverty, shock, fascism and other forms of oblivion. Reporting that and the wider experience is a crucial part of the response of those of us who refuse to accept that most people exist to serve out as austerity’s fodder. To put it another way – everyone everywhere needs to know when and where poverty and fascism are taking people out across Europe and anyone who is in a position to report that should be doing so.
On this site, we’re publishing transcripts of the recorded interviews we made in Athens. We have about ten to post, which we’ll do over the next few days. We’ll add links to our other articles as they appear. We’ll also be adding the audios from the interviews when we’ve had time to upload them.
This first interview is with Kelly, 31. We met her last Saturday. She voted for the Golden Dawn in the recent elections and plans to vote for them again. She explains why in this interview.
Kelly studied communications and works in telecommunications for four to six hours a day. She earns around €400 a month, plus commission. She also works as a stylist. She lives in Kallithea with her parents and her brother.
On the political situation, paying the bills and trying to find work:
“I am pessimistic. [There are] many problems. The working class is suffering, I was living a lie. My parents, my tutors and the system told me how my life would be and I realised it wasn’t true.
I don’t know how to get through this and live the rest of my years. I feel it was all a lie because I can’t have the work I think I deserve. I can’t have a family. The crisis isn’t only economic. We don’t believe in things now – it is also a crisis of confidence. The political situation isn’t only in our pockets with work. It’s in our minds – we can’t trust anyone anymore.
Depression, anger, [the fact that] we can’t make dreams is a common feeling, especially among young people in Greece.
[I believe] that the situation has been caused the socialist party of George Papandreou – they took advantage of the good circumstances in the previous period and as a result this generation has to suffer.
On the appeal of the Golden Dawn
“I’m not here to say Golden Dawn are good. I’m here to explain the intention of the Golden Dawn voter. I don’t have a problem with immigrants. If an immigrant came to my house and wanted to eat, I’ll be the first person to give him food. I’m very generous and all Greek people are too – they will help anyone.
But I believe that I would prefer to vote for a party that says [things like] – “you know what? I’m the worst. I’m a fascist” – but [at least] are honest and straightforward in what they do. Not like the other parties who say – “I’ll increase your salary and your unemployment benefit will increase”, which are all lies. I appreciate the fact that Golden Dawn members are very straightforward and don’t want parliamentary salaries, but normal ones.
Golden Dawn is also against the memorandum and the most important reason for their appeal is because it’s a stroke [a hit] against the other political parties. It’s revenge. I believe that Golden Dawn is an extreme party, but I believe that the political system is a jungle and is also extreme. The existing system is pro-austerity.
The worst thing in Greek society is the cultivating media that misleads Greek people. For example, they say that Golden Dawn is anti-immigration, but at the same time, they are selling the country. So, to mislead [divert] us, they tell us about Golden Dawn, but the situation is more complex than that. They are cultivating us. They use Golden Dawn as a means to divide people.
I would not like to see a government with Golden Dawn as the main political party. I feel they should be in opposition, because I’m a little bit afraid of them. Even though I can understand the intention of someone to vote for Golden Dawn, I’m not sure that they should be government. Also, I don’t believe any political party can lead Greece out of this crisis. Only going back to the drachma will solve this. At first there will be a slump but in the future we will grow again.
In every party, there are bad people. When there is a protest in Syntagma, some anarchists will take advantage and start to burn the city, in Golden Dawn, there are some – not fascists, but psychos who will take advantage of situations. I’m afraid and a little bit concerned of what comes out of them, with all the news of attacks on immigrants. It’s more extreme than what I thought, but, if there were elections now, I would vote for Golden Dawn again.
On Golden Dawn’s attacks on immigrants
I don’t believe that all the stories are real. But, one day on the bus, there was a big man who started shouting at an immigrant – “get off the bus!” and “get your legs down!” and things like that. I freaked out. That makes me angry. But – I have had situations in the last year [with immigrants that I’ve had to deal with]. I went out for a walk at 11 o’clock at night. There was a man – a Russian or something like that – in his car. He was in the car with a junkie. They had a fight and the junkie got out and started to scream, I waited for a bit and then started to walk.
The driver saw me. He started following me inside the car. He started speaking to me – he kind of blocked my way two times with his car. It seemed like he was coming out of the car and maybe to try to grab me in an assault. I started to run and luckily my house was only ten seconds from this place. There is a problem in Greece – the immigrants here don’t want a better future. They don’t want to work and make families. They are from jails, they are engaging with crime, they are not civilised people. They rape [and] they are thieves. Not all the immigrants – but a lot of the immigrants here are like this. I know this from my own personal experience and from various other incidents. This is not from the media, but from my friends and people I know. Not from the media.
I am against Golden Dawn going into schools and hospitals, but, I also condemn the mainstream media for not giving them equal publicity to other political parties. They have no space in the media and so they have to go from door to door to spread their message and communicate their ideas.
Some of them are fascists but some of them aren’t. I am not a fascist person.”
On the past, friends, family and the drachma
I didn’t follow politics when I was younger. In Greece, when you support a party, you get some benefits [from that] – work and so on, so maybe I should do it, but I prefer to vote for Golden Dawn. I have always lived in Athens and I don’t think I want to leave, even with [the economic] situation. I believe that Greek people are very generous and very polite. We have a good energy. I have travelled to some countries and I believe that believe Greek people are the best.
The majority of people oppose the drachma policy – they say things will get worse and worse. I know people who have voted for Golden Dawn, who are like me, who are not fascist people, and other parties are criticising them again and again. The real fascist people are the other parties. I would never call someone a fascist for what they believe in.
[My friends are] considering leaving Greece, but we none of us want to leave. We love our country. To go away you have to have money and you need work. It is more difficult. Around ten percent of my friends are interested in Golden Dawn.
My parents find the situation very difficult. They feel sad about our generation and the dreams they had for their children, the destruction of the healthcare system and the reduction of pensions. They did not vote for Golden Dawn. I am the black sheep of the family. They understand why I did vote for them though. They didn’t criticise me.