Right-wing populists gain political ground in Greece

For the first time in nearly 40 years, a far-right party is sharing power in the Greek government. But in the midst of a political crisis, the Popular Orthodox Rally is becoming increasingly mainstream.

Giorgos Karatzaferis leads the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally, or LAOS party, as an undisputed autocrat. Opinions differ on whether he is a true hothead or a merciless opportunist – or perhaps both. His political opponents say Karatzaferis is a man who immediately knows an opportunity when he sees it, and tells people exactly what they want to hear.

For example, he often pokes fun at the “boys from Boston,” by which he means both the recently-resigned Prime Minister George Papandreou and his conservative counterpart, Antonis Samaras, who both studied in the United States. They have no clue what real life is, Karatzaferis implies – quite the opposite of himself, the man who dropped out of school and worked his way through careers as a journalist, copywriter, body-builder, small businessman, head of a modeling agency and finally politician.

Controversial statements

For years Karatzaferis belonged to the conservative New Democracy. But as the party moved markedly to the center in the 1990s under the leadership of later Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, Karatzaferis founded his Popular Orthodox Rally, attracting attention with right-wing populist and anti-Semitic comments.


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