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News+Politics
What’s Going On In Europe? And Is It Helping An Extreme Right-Wing Party Get More Powerful?
November 14, 2012
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There were major protests in many European cities today. Millions of people took to the streets to demand that their governments stop cutting benefits and start creating more jobs.

So here are two big questions: why is this happening? And where will it lead?

Well, as far as why, this chart from financial firm M&G shows one major reason. Along with many other countries in the EU, Greece and Spain have been hit hard by the financial crisis:

europe-protests-graph.jpg

With unemployment very high in both Greece and Spain (and at 10.6 per cent across the EU), life is getting harder for many people living there.

For example, malaria has broken out in Greece for the first time since 1974.

The reason? Austerity budgets led to cuts in municipal spraying programs designed to fight mosquito-borne diseases.

At the moment, over 25 million people in Europe are jobless.

In Spain, the unemployment rate recently reached a record 25 per cent for the general population. The youth unemployment rate, meanwhile, is over 55 per cent. Greece also has around 25 per cent unemployment overall, and 54 per cent of young people are without work.

And the bleak financial situation seems to be having an effect on some people's political beliefs.

A Greek right-wing extremist party called Golden Dawn is gaining supporters, despite the fact that they bear a striking resemblance to the Nazi party.

golden-dawn-salute.jpg

Golden Dawn's members use a Nazi-style salute. They have pledged to "expel all illegal foreigners." They opened a "Greeks Only" blood bank. And they have been tied to attacks on immigrants.

Greek Prime MInister Antonis Samaras recently called them "an extreme right, you could almost say fascist, neo-Nazi party" in an interview with the German media.

The founder and leader of Golden Dawn, Nikolaos Mihaloliakos, has praised Hitler in the past and denied the existence of the Nazi gas chambers.

golden-dawn-founder.jpg

And yet according to a survey by independent polling company VPRC, the party has 14 per cent support in Greece. In June's election, Golden Dawn won seven percent of the popular vote.

Prime Minister Samaras is concerned about the influence Golden Dawn has begun to wield.

golden-dawn-crowd.jpg

In his conversation with the German media, he compared Greece's current situation to the conditions that led to the collapse of the Weimar Republic in Germany, which led to the rise of the Nazis. Scary stuff.

As for today's protests, they turned violent in some places.

europe-protests-lisbon-fire.jpg

In Madrid, riot police clashed with anti-austerity protestors, and in Italy 17 police officers were wounded in clashes with the tens of thousands of students and workers on the streets of Rome, Milan, Turin and about 100 other towns and cities.

europe-protests-barcelona-night.jpg

The Guardian has a timeline of today's events. Check that out right here.

Related:

Neo-Nazis Fooled By Clever T-Shirts

The European Debt Crisis Explained - With Lego

Neo-Nazis Silenced: Twitter Blocks An Account For The First Time Ever

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