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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 3 November 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 3 NOVEMBER 2018 25 OPINION cially in the Dropoli region, a region which is officially designated as a Greek minority zone by the Albanian government, are ethnically homogenous. Others, have mixed populations and in areas like Himara, along the coast, the Albanian government officially denies the existence of a Greek minority, even though three of its seven villages are predominantly Greek speaking. In areas such as Korytsa, which have historically been Vlach speaking, the ethnic and cultural affiliations of the inhabitants are being constantly renegotiated. The land is complex and defies sweeping characterisation. THE POLITICS OF ALBANIAN NATIONALISM Members of the Greek minority are represented in all mainstream Albanian political parties. There also exists a political party known as the Union for Human Rights, which is in effect a party largely based upon the support of the Greek minority, since by law, political parties cannot be constructed in Albania on ethnic lines. Its main role is to draw attention to acts of discrimination and racism experienced by ethnic minorities in Albania by the state and its organs. To argue that there is organised repression of the Greeks of Albania is thus misleading. But it cannot be doubted that the modern Albanian state finds the presence of persons identifying as Greek within its borders problematic and does not always deal with them in an equitable way. This is because Albanian nationalism is a potent and extremely virulent force in domestic politics, allowing the electorate to focus not on corruption, a parlous economy and a dearth of public services but rather, on territorial expansion, and feelings of being hard-done by, since, according to what is being taught in official Albanian geography books, Albania should include all of Epirus and parts of Macedonia and the entire modern Greek state owes its existence to Albania and Albania's greatest son, Alexander the Great. When Albanians, especially those serving the state, are steeped in this ideology, they are bound to react when, in contrast to what they are being taught, they come across villages who want to raise the Greek flag and celebrate what Albanians consider to be not a fight against fascism, but rather an invasion of Albanian territory. Members of the Albanian security forces and municipal authorities have tried to obstruct Greek flag rais- ing in the past. Coupled with that, the fact that in 1914, the Greeks of Northern Epirus fought a war with the Albanians in order to secure an autonomous status and one can see how the Greeks are portrayed as a disloyal, potential fifth column by cynical politicians to their constituents. Prominent and outspoken members of the Greek minority are subject to harassment periodically, if they advocate for "rights". In areas such as Himara which form the Albanian Riviera, there is a concerted effort to drive elderly people out of their homes and appropriate land in an illegal fashion, for sale to developers. Electoral fraud and intimidation in these regions is rife. Even though Greeks and Albanians have lived side by side throughout the entire Balkans for centuries, their national narratives within the borders of modern Albania exclude one another, and consequently, the absorption of those identifying as Greek into the broader national narrative seems to be impossible, possibly because they have only ever related to each other from a point of political/ class ascendancy or servitude, something that extremists on all sides, gleefully exploit. The shooting of Katsifas once more sends the message to the Albanian mainstream that those identifying as Greek are subversive and a threat to the state. This does not augur well for interethnic harmony in the region. It also leaves questions about the justification for the excessive use of force and whether or not Albanian special forces exercised best practice in apprehending an armed law breaker, unanswered. Katsifas' death is thus a trag- edy, not because it exposes the cynicism of an Albanian police force already known to "construct" events in order to feed local prejudice (the stealing of ballot boxes during elections in Himara being a case in point) but because it achieved the opposite of what he purportedly wanted to do. Instead of raising awareness and sensitivity about the complex and ever changing ethno-linguistic demography of Northern Epirus, his death has reduced to a stereotype, one to be employed to feed the prejudices of a Greek polity constantly in search of more mud to sling at each other. And in that corrosive struggle, the day to day difficulties of the Greeks and Albanians that live in that impoverished region, being of no use to those who seek only to orientalise them, are ignored and effaced. ‘Far right’ groups may be diverse – but here’s what they all have in common DAPHNE HALIKIOPOULOU* Far right parties and groups have been enjoying increasing support across Europe. Such parties have performed well in recent domestic elections, often occupying second or third place – and in some cases joining governing coalitions. Examples include the French Front National (FN, now Rassemblement National), the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), the Austrian Party for Freedom (FPÖ), the Norwegian Progress Party (FrP), the Italian Lega Nord (LN), the Sweden Democrats (SD) and Alternative for Germany (AfD). Their shared focus on sovereignty, their scepticism of the EU, their emphasis on strict immigration policies and the placing of "native" inhabitants first in areas such as welfare and social services – policies that promote a "new nationalism" – have allowed researchers to compare these parties, often under the umbrella of the "far right". However, the term "far right" tends to subsume a broad range of parties and groups that differ significantly in agenda and policy – especially economic and welfare policies – as well as the extent to which they support and employ violence. This category includes both parties that have moderated their agendas, distancing themselves from fascism in order to appeal to broader electorates; and vigilante street groups and extreme parties which employ violence, such as the Greek Golden Dawn (GD), the English Defence League (EDL), Britain First and the Italian Casa Pound. For this reason, the use of the term "far right" is often contested. So is it appropriate to group such different organisations under the same label? TERMINOLOGY The short answer is "yes". Given the significant variations that exist between these parties and groups, any term that groups them together and compares them will have limitations. But the term "far right" is the least problematic precisely because it can be used, on the one hand, to identify the overarching similarities that make them comparable, and on the other to distinguish between different variants, allowing researchers to take into account the idiosyncrasies of specific cases. The "far right" umbrella includes parties and groups that share an important commonality: they all justify a broad range of policy positions on socioeconomic issues on the basis of nationalism. The point here is not simply that they are all, to a degree, nationalist; but rather, that they use nationalism to justify their positions on all socioeconomic issues. The term "right-wing populism", however, is less appropriate. Populism is an even broader umbrella that often includes disparate parties and groups. To narrow down this category, we often tend to conflate populism and nationalism, identifying a party as populist, not on the basis of its populist attributes – what party doesn't claim to speak on behalf of the people in a democracy? – but on the basis of its nationalist attributes. But despite the similari- to fascism and also employ violence and aggressive tactics. These groups may operate either outside or within the realm of electoral politics, or both. They tend to oppose procedural democracy. The Greek Golden Dawn, for example, was formed as a violent grassroots movement by far right activists. Prior to its election to the Greek parliament in 2012, the party's main activities were confined to the streets. Researchers often label this party as fascist or neo-Nazi. Other examples include UKbased street movement Britain First, the English Defence League and its former leader Tommy Robinson. We might add various white supremacist organisations to this category, such as Stormfront in the US. liberal democratic values. This strengthens the ability of these parties to mobilise on issues such as terrorism by linking anti-Muslim narratives to immigration and security. The justification is that certain cultures and religions are intolerant and inherently antithetical to democracy. It also focuses on social welfare as an important aspect of the social contract between state and citizens. The positions of these parties are increasingly protectionist and welfare chauvinist, allowing them to mobilise the economically insecure by linking immigration, unemployment and (a purported) welfare scarcity. This position is not incompatible with "far right" terminology. Extreme right variants have often been statist in their economic orientations – the classic example being fascism. Radical right variants, too, are increasingly departing from the neo-liberal economic formula of past years to adopt a more economically centrist position. Golden Dawn supporters gather outside the Athens’ courthouse, as they wait for the transfer of Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos to the prosecutor, in Athens, Greece, 02 October 2013. PHOTO: AAP VIA EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI ties between "populism" and "nationalism" – both emphasise conflict lines, focus on the collective, and put forward a vision of an ideal society – the two are conceptually different. While the former pits the people against the elites, the latter pits the in-group against the out-group. And so herein lies the problem. If nationalism is always a feature of the far right, as most researchers agree, what is the added value of the term "populism"? To put it another way, what is the difference between a radical right-wing party and a populist radical right-wing party? While populism may or may not be an attribute of some far right parties, it is not their defining feature. Rather, nationalism is. EXTREME VS RADICAL Under the "far right" umbrella, we might distinguish between two sub-categories: extreme and radical right. The extreme right includes both vigilante groups and political parties that are often openly racist, have clear ties It is notable that these groups often have ties between them – Stormfront, for example, often promotes Golden Dawn activities in its online materials. The radical right tends to be the most widespread and electorally successful in Europe. These parties, which include the French FN (now Rassemblement National), Dutch PVV, Sweden Democrats, and the AfD, accept procedural democracy and have distanced themselves from fascism. They oppose the far right label. These parties also use nationalism to justify all their policy positions. But instead of the ethnic nationalist narrative adopted by extreme right parties – which focuses on blood, creed and common descent – radical right parties utilise a civic nationalist narrative to promote anti-immigrant agendas, which allows them to appear legitimate to a broad section of the population. This civic nationalist rhetoric presents culture as a value issue, justifying exclusion on purported threats posed by those who do not share "our" So, comparable does not mean identical. The BNP is not the same as UKIP. Similarly, Golden Dawn is not the same as the FN or the PVV or the AfD. But these groups are comparable; they all justify their policies on some form of exclusion of an out-group. Comparing them allows us not only to understand their different levels of success across Europe, but also the different forms they take depending on context and circumstance. In northwest Europe, for example, the most successful far right parties are radical right variants that emphasise immigration and a cultural backlash, such as the PVV, the FN and the SVP; while in crisisridden southern Europe, successful far right parties, such as Golden Dawn, tend to be extreme variants which propose statist economic agendas. But while these parties differ in many ways, their progressive entrenchment in their national political systems raises similar questions about outgroup exclusion, anti-immigration narratives and mainstream responses. And this progressive entrenchment has comparable – and significant – implications for the nature of democracy and policymaking in Europe. *Daphne Halikiopoulou is Associate Professor in Comparative Politics at the University of Reading (UK). This article was originally posted on The Conversation and is reprinted under Creative Commons licence.
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