Organizing against Democracy: the local organizational development of the Golden Dawn in Greece

Hosted by the Hellenic Observatory

CaƱada Blanch Room COW 1.11 Cowdray House


Dr Antonis Ellinas

Dr Antonis Ellinas


Professor Kevin Featherstone

Professor Kevin Featherstone

In the past few decades, far right parties have developed from marginal political actors into potent political forces in Europe, changing the contours of the political debate and challenging the moral foundations of liberal democracy. Despite the geographical spread of, and scholarly attention to this phenomenon, remarkably little is known about the internal mechanics of these parties and the micro-dynamics shaping their organizational development. Using a vast array of evidence to examine the organizational life of one of the most extreme far right parties in Europe, the Greek Golden Dawn, I analyze the developmental trajectory of dozens of its local organizations. By analysing the entire universe of local party branches, I develop an analytical framework to show how these local party units are able to grow roots in some settings but completely fail in others. To account for this remarkable variation in local organizational life, I systematically show how electoral, endogenous, institutional and societal factors affect the capacity of the Golden Dawn to infiltrate local societies.

Dr Antonis A. Ellinas is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Cyprus. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and his B.A. from Hamilton College. He works on comparative European politics. He is the author of The Media and the Far Right in Western Europe (Cambridge Univ. Press 2010) and The European Commission and Bureaucratic Autonomy (Cambridge University Press 2012, with Ezra Suleiman). His work has appeared in Comparative Politics, West European Politics, the Journal of European Public Policy, the Journal of Common Market Studies, and South European Society and Politics, among others.

Professor Kevin Featherstone is Eleftherios Venizelos Professor of Contemporary Greek Studies and Professor of European Politics. He is the Director of the Hellenic Observatory and Co-Chair of LSEE: Research on South-East Europe within the European Institute. He has held visiting positions at the University of Minnesota; New York University; and Harvard University.  Before LSE, he held academic posts at the universities of Stirling and Bradford.  In 2009-10 he served on an advisory committee to Prime Minister George Papandreou for the reform of the Greek government.  He was the first foreign member of the National Council for Research and Technology (ESET) in Greece, serving from 2010-2013.  He is Vice-Chair of the Academic Council of 'Atomium Culture', Brussels, a not-for-profit promoting collaboration within the European Research Area.  In 2013 he was made ‘Commander: Order of the Phoenix’ by the President of the Hellenic Republic.  In 2014, the European Parliament selected one of his books (co-authored with Kenneth Dyson) as one of its ‘100 Books on Europe to Remember’. He has contributed regularly to ‘Kathimerini’.

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The Hellenic Observatory  (@HO_LSE)  is internationally recognised as one of the premier research centres on contemporary Greece and Cyprus. It engages in a range of activities, including developing and supporting academic and policy-related research; organisation of conferences, seminars and workshops; academic exchange through visiting fellowships and internships; as well as teaching at the graduate level through LSE's European Institute.