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Vasiliki Georgiadou

Lamprini Rori

July 5th, 2023

Who votes for the far right in Greece?

0 comments | 20 shares

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Vasiliki Georgiadou

Lamprini Rori

July 5th, 2023

Who votes for the far right in Greece?

0 comments | 20 shares

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Three far-right parties won representation in the Greek parliament at the country’s parliamentary election on 25 June. Vasiliki Georgiadou and Lamprini Rori examine what we know about supporters of the three parties and what this tells us about the future of the far right in Greece.

In the Greek parliamentary election on 25 June, three far-right parties – Greek Solution, the Spartans and Victory – gained parliamentary representation. Both the Spartans and Victory are new to parliament. The overall share of the vote for the far right stood at just under 12.8%. This new mosaic of far-right players in Greek politics raises some important questions about the country’s future trajectory.

Among the three parties, the Spartans received the highest share of support, with just over 4.6% of the vote. The party did not contest the previous parliamentary election on 21 May, which produced an inconclusive outcome and resulted in the 25 June election being called. Greek Solution was close behind on just over 4.4% of the vote, largely maintaining its level of support from the May election, albeit with fewer seats. Victory, which failed to win any seats in May, received just under 3.7% of the vote in the June election and secured 10 seats in parliament.

Far-right voters

Although the three parties can be grouped together with respect to their electoral platforms, there are some important differences when it comes to their supporters. Indeed, according to the exit poll for the June elections, the three parties attract voters with quite distinct social characteristics.

The first major difference relates to the gender of voters. While Greek Solution and the Spartans are mainly backed by male voters, there is a more even gender balance among supporters of Victory, with close to a 50-50 split between male and female voters.

There are also some important differences in relation to the age of their supporters. Greek Solution attracts relatively uniform levels of support from across different age groups. In contrast, Victory is primarily supported by people aged between 34 and 54. Both Greek Solution and Victory have low levels of support among the youngest voters aged between 18 and 24. The reverse is true of the Spartans, who are backed to a far more significant extent among those aged between 18 and 44, with comparatively lower levels of support among voters over 45.

Voters with lower levels of educational attainment are often assumed to be more likely to vote for the far right. This pattern appears to hold for Greek Solution and the Spartans, who both attract support disproportionately from those with low levels of primary and secondary education. However, Victory stands out as an exception as the party attracts lower than average levels of support among voters with low educational attainment and higher levels of support among those with university degrees.

Geographic variation and cohesion

There is also some interesting geographic variation in the support for the three parties. All three parties appear to have greater levels of support in northern Greece, although this trend is less evident in the case of the Spartans than it is for the other two parties.

All three parties have electoral strongholds in the Central Macedonia region. This region saw major protests in 2019 in opposition to the Prespa Agreement, which resolved the naming dispute between Greece and what is now North Macedonia. The Spartans are almost equally strong in the Thessaly and Central Greece regions.

There are also clear differences in the electoral cohesion of each of the three parties. Victory appears to be the most cohesive, as 72% of those who backed the party in the May election chose to support it again in the June contest. Greek Solution had a far harder job of maintaining its supporters across the two elections, while the Spartans were successful at attracting former voters for other smaller parties situated at the right and left sides of the ideological spectrum. The party also drew a large amount of its support from those who had previously been non-voters or had cast blank votes in the May election.

Interestingly, the exit poll indicates that a majority of those who voted for the three parties do not feel particularly close to the party they voted for. There also appears to be an ideological distance between the three parties and their supporters. Around 48% of voters for the Spartans described themselves as far right, but for the other two parties this number was substantially smaller. Those who refused to position themselves on a left-right spectrum were equally distributed among the three parties.

The future of the far right

The far right played only a marginal role in the Greek party system following the country’s transition to democracy in 1974. However, from 2000 onwards, far-right parties have become permanent features of the national political arena. The parliamentary election on 25 June has confirmed this trend.

The previous electoral peak for the parliamentary far right was in June 2012, when Golden Dawn and the Independent Greeks received a combined 14.4% of the vote. At the time, this support was explained as a function of the Greek debt crisis, which was still at its height. This was in line with theories identifying economic insecurity and a cultural backlash as key explanatory factors for support for the far right, while violence stemming from the extreme right of the political spectrum was also highly associated with the crisis.

However, although the total vote share received by Greek Solution, the Spartans and Victory in the June 2023 election was marginally lower than the high watermark of June 2012, we now have several the different variations of the far right represented in the Greek parliament for the first time. The fact that this has occurred during an era of relative political and economic normality illustrates the permanence of the far right in the Greek party system.

The Greek far right can no longer be understood as a mere by-product from a debt crisis, but instead appears to be a stable feature of the country’s politics. Far-right parties are now flourishing in an era of apparent stability and growth. This suggests we will need to go beyond traditional explanations focused on grievances, nostalgia, resistance to change and authoritarian attitudes if we are to fully understood the appeal of the far right to Greek voters.


Note: This article gives the views of the author, not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy or the London School of Economics. Featured image credit: Foxartbox/Shutterstock.com


About the author

Vasiliki Georgiadou

Vasiliki Georgiadou

Vasiliki Georgiadou is a Professor of Political Science at the Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences and the Director of the National Centre for Social Research (EKKE) in Greece. Her current research interests focus on far-right parties and movements, political radicalism and violent extremism.

Lamprini Rori

Lamprini Rori

Lamprini Rori is an Assistant Professor in Political Analysis at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Her research focuses on party politics and elections, the far right and the far left in Europe, political violence and online political networks.

Posted In: Elections | Politics

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