Golden Dawn Offshoot Party Banned After Greek Elections

Before the legislative elections of May 21 in Greece, justice decided on Tuesday to banish from the ballot a political party founded by a former executive of the neo-Nazi formation Golden Dawn who is serving a heavy prison sentence.

By a large majority of 9 judges to 1, the Supreme Court banned the far-right party “The Hellenes” from standing for election, according to the president of this institution, Altana Kokovou.

The judges considered that this formation was the “continuation of Golden Dawn”, according to a judicial source.

Its founder, Ilias Kassidiaris, former spokesman for the neo-Nazi party, now behind bars, will also not be able to stand as a candidate as he aspired to do.

From his prison cell, this former MP for Golden Dawn from 2012 to 2019 had recently announced his intention to run for a seat as an MP in the Athens Center constituency.

In February, Parliament blocked the “Hellenes” by adopting amendments to the 2021 electoral law which provides that a political party cannot participate in the elections if its leadership, official or unofficial, has been condemned for belonging to a criminal organization.

The last word then went to the Supreme Court.

Government spokesman Akis Skertsos hailed a “historic decision” that will prevent “enemies of democracy” from sitting in parliament.

“It is our duty to all of us to protect democracy”, he judged while it was the first time since the restoration of democracy in 1974 that Greece prohibited a party from launching into the race for elections.

Youtube Channel

Ilias Kassidiaris’s lawyer, who had created this training a few months before his imprisonment in October 2020, castigated this judgment.

“Half a million Greeks are deprived of the right to vote for the party of their choice,” assured Vasso Pantazi.

Another small far-right party, the EAN, on the other hand, obtained the green light to participate in the elections.

Following a marathon trial in October 2020 of 67 leaders, executives and supporters of Golden Dawn, Ilias Kassidiaris, 42, violent, Holocaust denier and racist, was sentenced to 13 and a half years in prison for his membership in a “criminal organization”.

Golden Dawn, whose electoral scores at the height of the financial crisis alarmed the whole of Europe, had been implicated in the 2013 assassination of anti-racist rapper, Pavlos Fyssas, and other violence. This crime is now being tried on appeal.

Four years after their ouster from Parliament, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wanted at all costs to avoid the return of neo-Nazis to Parliament.

Because despite his imprisonment in a high security prison, Ilias Kassidiaris continued his political activities. From his cell, he regularly addresses his supporters through voice messages broadcast on his YouTube channel, which has more than 135,000 subscribers.

According to a poll for the television channel Open TV on Friday, his party would obtain 4% of the vote in the next elections, a score above the 3% threshold set to sit in Vouli.

The Radical Left Syriza, the main opposition party of Alexis Tsipras, had expressed reservations about a possible ban while voting in favor of the amendment.

He said he feared that such a ban “would give a major boost” to the neo-Nazi movement, suggesting that the right could recover the voices of the far right.

Alexis Tsipras nevertheless assured Tuesday that “neo-Nazis must be in prison”.

Anti-Semitic Diatribes

The name of Kassidiaris is associated with anti-Semitic diatribes, nationalist outrages, anti-system kicks and outbursts of violence.

During a television program in 2012, he slapped a communist deputy and threw his glass of water in the face of a Syriza elected official.

Ilias Kassidiaris displays his sympathies for the Third Reich: he has had a swastika tattooed on his left arm.

In 2012, in a climate of social distress linked to the financial crisis in Greece, loss of confidence in institutions and discredit of the main political parties, Golden Dawn made a sensational entry into parliament with 18 deputies.

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