ATHENS – Greece’s Parliament voted to bar a new far-right extremist party – operated by a jailed former member of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn – from taking part in spring elections, preventing the embarrassment of seeing its members taking seats.
The Greek National Party is run by Ilias Kasidiaris, who was Golden Dawn’s spokesman, and is serving a 13-year jail sentence along with other of its former leaders and dozens of members convicted of running a criminal gang.
Known for anti-migrant vitriol and jingoistic statements, Kasidiaris has been able to put together the new extremist party although he reportedly no longer has access to a cell phone, yet has a social media presence.
The vote in Parliament was split, with the ultra-nationalist Greek Solution and KKE Communists voting against the measure, saying it could be used against legitimate activist parties from running.
Public Order Minister Takis Theodorikakos told the state-run broadcaster ERT that, “The Government did the right thing by responding to a demand from a vast majority of Greek citizens: to exclude a party led by a convicted member of a criminal organization.”
Polls showed the new party at 3.4 percent of the vote, just above the 3 percent threshold needed to enter Parliament in the next elections coming sometime in the spring, as soon as April 9, a week before Easter.
Kasidiaris said the vote in Parliament as a violation of the constitution and voters’ rights, and vowed to set up its own unofficial ballot boxes on election day whose votes wouldn’t count except to his backers.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)