The paper examines the Greek state’s response to the far-right party Golden Dawn in light of three theoretical models of democratic self-defense: militant, procedural and social. It argues that Golden Dawn’s violent, racist and anti-parliamentary politics has exposed Greek democracy’s vulnerability and challenged its ability to tackle antidemocratic parties. Since the country lacks a militant democratic constitution that would allow party bans, extremist political actors are controlled through criminal law. Yet, the use of this procedural response to Golden Dawn has had serious limitations. In addition to illuminating these limitations, the paper discusses an alternative, social, approach to democratic self-defense, which relates inclusive social policies to the goal of counteracting extremist parties. Considering that Golden Dawn rose amidst a momentous financial and social crisis, the Greek case offers a good reason for supporting the social model of democratic self-defense.

Anthoula Malkopoulou is Docent in Political Science at Uppsala University, where she has worked since 2012. A recipient of several fellowships, including the Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (2014-16) and the Erik Allardt Fellowship at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (2012), she holds a PhD from the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Political Thought, University of Jyväskylä (2011). Malkopoulou has been a Visiting Professor in Adelaide, Helsinki, Dublin, Athens, Rome, Berlin, and a collaborating Lecturer at the Hellenic Open University. She is Convener of the ECPR Standing Group on Political Concepts and a co-editor of Redescriptions: Political Thought, Conceptual History and Feminist Theory. Malkopoulou’s main fields of research are contemporary democratic theory and history of political thought, with a focus on political representation and responses to far-right parties. She is the author of The History of Compulsory Voting in Europe (Routledge, 2015), and co-editor of Militant Democracy and its Critics (Edinburgh University Press, 2019), Equal Representation (Routledge, 2018) and Rhetoric, Politics and Conceptual Change (Finnish Institute, 2011). She has published numerous papers, among them “Three Models of Democratic Self-defense” (Political Studies, 2018) and “Ostracism and Democratic Self-defense in Athens” (Constellations, 2017). In 2019, she received two group research grants, one from the Wallenberg Foundation to study the social model of democratic self-defense and a second from the Swedish Research Council to research the contributivist conditionality of voting rights.

Respondent: Kim Lane Scheppele, Sociology

Supported by The Christos G. and Rhoda Papaioannou Modern Greek Studies Fund

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