Populism emerged in Greece for many reasons. The increase in refugees and government overspending of the nation’s money to name the two biggest reasons. Greece is a country that does not put the interests of their citizens first; instead, they prioritize the identity of the nation and are driving the idea that the national identity is being threatened by the increased flux of refugees who are primarily from Syria. Furthermore, immigration plays a big role in the populist platform, especially in Greece as the Syrian situation continues and worsens. Additionally, Greek attitude toward right-wing populism is increasing because there is a fear that the arriving immigrants will utilize a large amount of Greek healthcare and welfare state and that they are also causing unemployment for Greek citizens.
Populism is rising with the refugee crisis because the current government is not being effective with stopping the flow of immigrants. However, Germany and Sweden were willing to help with the situation of immigration by proposing the idea that refugees should be distributed among all European Union Members, but this solution that is meant to lighten the immigrant load off of Greece, was opposed by the members and instead created tension between them. As the tension between the members rose, the populist party took advantage of this opportunity and decided to scapegoat the Greek government against its people by persuading the public that the government was incapable of delivering stability even within a group who had formed together due to similar interests.
Populism is highly effective in gaining power and consolidating it. It does this by playing the people against elites and by dividing citizens into patriots and creating an ‘us versus them’ world. This tactic done by populists destroys the illusion that democracy had created within people. It deteriorates citizen views about government officials and elites because they no longer see their government as strong-abled leaders. Instead they view populism as a way that can ensure their interests; in this case, stronger restrictions on immigration.
The next reason for the emergence of populism is due to the government’s mismanagement of the nation’s money. Their spending over exceeded the nations budget and as a result the citizens of Greece took over the load of having to stabilize the economy by contributing to a higher tax rate. As a result the International Monetary Fund had to step in in order to effectively stimulate international economic cooperation so that the country could come out of debt and begin to trade internationally again. The interference of the IMF is important because it helps to stabilize economies and repair sustainable economic growth. However, Greece’s goal of the IMF loan was to ultimately rid itself of its debt and stabilize its finances, but, the goals that Greece had set out for itself is not what occurred. It ended up in deeper debt. Populists blamed the establishment; and raised issues about economic and social fallout of globalization and demanded political accountability. Populist’s are people who want to appeal to a group a people and by trying to hold a government accountable for its actions it makes it easier to expose a government when they do something that is not in the best interests of the people. This exposure can deter public support of the government and move it towards an opposition group who is in favor of the people’s interests like the populists.
People, from one day to the next, do not voluntarily want a new type of political regime if things as they currently are going well. It takes a government who is corrupt, self-interested, and oblivious to the needs and protection of its people to create a situation where they need to be replaced. The people of Greece do not agree with its action less government against immigration because despite the increase in refugee’s the government will not be affected as greatly by their arrival as common people because their jobs will not be taken away or their money. It is the ordinary people who suffer from immigration, not the elite. Thus driving the people towards populists ideas through their shared interests will reflect their underrepresented interests on immigration that the current government failed to address. To continue, Populism in Greece emerged because the government was not responsible with its money. It took advantage of its power and made their citizens pay for their irresponsibleness. Populism grew because it aimed to represent the underrepresented and the taken advantage of. But, the people during this weak state that they are in whether it be economically, socially, or politically caused often forget that although populism seems like the correct method in reforming government, they often forget that populists are able to change their mind and redirect themselves towards other interests that no longer represent the people. As a result, turning a once democratic country into an authoritative nation when this shift in interests between the people and the populists leaders takes place.
“Photo by Dabs Banner, “Refugee camp on Lesvos”