One of the fastest growing political parties in Greece is called Golden Dawn.
With Greece deep in economic and social crisis, the party is promising voters in next month's elections to start by expelling illegal immigrants - before moving on to the legal ones.The party headquarters of Golden Dawn was until recently decorated with busts of Adolf Hitler. It's trying to clean up its image because it will mostly likely capture 5% of the vote in the May 6 election, which means these jack-booted thugs will be part of the government in a couple weeks.
Nevertheless, Golden Dawn denies it is neo-Nazi, although its leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos did give a Nazi salute at an Athens city council meeting last year.
That doesn't mean the whole country is going right-wing. The extreme left wing is rising even faster.
There has been radicalization on the left, as well: Pasok has jettisoned voters to a hodgepodge of communist parties. The Communist Party of Greece, the Left Coalition and the Ecogreens have raised their representation from 14.7 percent in the 2009 election to roughly 34 percent when one includes the Democratic Left, a Left Coalition spinoff. Pasok and New Democracy will no doubt strive to suck back as many voters as they can, but it is clear that the two-party system is at an end.In 2009 the two major parties captured 77% of the popular vote. According to today's election polls, the two major parties would only get 30-37% of the popular vote. The new government will contain 8-10 new political parties.
What the two major parties have in common is their dedication to austerity measures despite a 22% unemployment rate (and a staggering 54 percent among university graduates), and a bailout plan which directs a majority of the money to foreign bankers. The five rounds of budget cuts and layoffs (with the Bank of Greece demanding a 6th round of cuts after the election) have failed to arrest the decline in the Greek economy.
Most of the rising parties on both the left and right have in common their disdain for the status quo and politics as usual.
Greece is hardly alone is this regard.
In Holland, the government collapsed because the right-wing Freedom Party failed to back further austerity measures. Yesterday, the neoliberal caretaker government managed to get the Green Party to sign onto the austerity measures.
If this sounds somewhat familiar, it is. The Green Party of Ireland were the ones who stepped forward to endorse the centrist parties with the bank bailout and austerity measures in 2009. They were then completely swept from power in the next election.
In the most recent polls, it is the Socialist Party, who opposed the austerity measures, to be set to gain the most. Like Greece, they will be having a coalition government in the future.
In France the big story is the rise of the anti-immigrant, right-wing National Front.
Getting lost National Front news is the fact that left-wing groups outside of the leading Socialist Party picked up as many votes as Le Pen. Plus, socialists are coming off back-to-back wins during the 2010 regional elections, and the 2011 senate elections.
Like in America, the right-wing is not on the rise in France. It is just getting more fascist. What is losing is center-right political parties.
The political scheme that has dominated most of the western world since the end of the Cold War - the two party system of one centrist party and one moderate right-wing party, both of whom beholden to the financial elite - finally appears to be coming to an end. At least in Europe.
What this means in the long-run is anyone's guess. Right now the field is wide open, as desperate working people, locked in economic depressions, reach for any possible solution.