The Greek ‘Underdog’ Political Culture: An Anti-European Political Identity?

  • Abstract:

    In the literature of Greek politics, the ‘underdog’ political culture is not only widely considered to be one of the main ideological entities of the modern Greek political system since its inception, but also the main source of resistance to the processes of modernization, Europeanization and globalization. In the context of the Greek sovereign debt crisis and the wider Eurozone and EU crises of the last few years, many have argued that this so-called ‘anti-European’ political culture has been revitalised in Greece by the contradictory responses from the EU towards Greece, but also the domestic appropriation and exploitation of underdog narratives by both radical right and left wing political powers. The present paper reflects on the above issues and challenges the conventional notion that the Greek underdog political culture is necessarily ‘anti-European’. Through the presentation of empirical findings based on focus groups and personal in-depth interviews in Greece, this paper argues that the distinctly democratic political identities that the EU strives to create and maintain as part of its own desired political identity as a specifically democratic institution, are paradoxically the same kind of identities that resist and challenge its direction and the course of European integration. Conclusively, the paper suggests that contestation of Europe can be alternatively read as a sign of a healthier political community.