Golden Dawn Faces Ballot Exclusion

ATHENS – Greece’s highest court is expected to rule by May 11, two weeks before elections for the European Parliament, whether the ultra far-right Golden Dawn party can be on the ballot.

Most of the extremists hierarchy and 18 Members of Parliament, including leader Nikos Michaloliakos, have been arrested or jailed pending a trial on charges the party is really operating a criminal gang.

The so-called secret charter of Golden Dawn, which was revealed during an ongoing probe that has amassed more than 10,000 pages of evidence and digital files, and whether a party facing criminal charges should be on the ballot could be the factor that knocks it off.

Authorities have used the charter, which lays out the Nazi-type structure and fascist ideology of the party, as the basis for charges against several Golden Dawn MPs who are accused of masterminding the organization.

Sources told the newspaper Kathimerini that the party likely would not put any of its MPs under investigation on the ballot. The party has already set up a surrogate organization, National Dawn, to take its place should it be banned from running in the vote. Greek municipal elections will take place on May 18.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy Conservative-led coalition government, that includes the vanishing PASOK Socialists, are in a tight race in both elections against the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) while Golden Dawn has been polling third or fourth in different surveys.