Greece’s main political parties continue to be befuddled on how to deal with the rising influence of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, with Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative party leader Antonis Samaras’ government backing off an anti-racism bill and saying that the major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) has “many similarities,” with the extremists.
The comment from government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou came in the wake of a Golden Dawn MP being ejected after insulting SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, breaking the rules of decorum in the Parliament. When that happened, a SYRIZA MP, trying to mock Golden Dawn, yelled “Heil Hitler!” three times, setting off angry exchanges between the parties. The Golden Dawn MP, Panayiotis, was tossed by a SYRIZA MP, Yiannis Dragasakis, who was sitting in as President of the Parliament.
Kedikoglou was responding to a speech by Tsipras to his party’s central committee who said the emboldened Golden Dawn’s power is because Samaras is catering to the far right in a bid to drain votes. Samaras, copying Golden Dawn, also said he is anti-immigrant. Golden Dawn has been blamed for assaults on immigrants, which it denies.
“Even democrats who support New Democracy are stunned by Samaras’s continuous far-right slip-ups,” Tsipras said. He added that his party would take on Golden Dawn as he said Dragasakis had by refusing to let Iliopoulos engage in a rant during the time he was allocated to ask a question.
“From now on, there will be zero tolerance of gangs and those who insult democracy and the history of this country, which paid the Nazis with blood,” he told party members.
Kedikoglou accused him of “incoherence and irresponsibility” and dismissed his attacks on Samaras as an attempt to unite the “scattered groupings” within the leftist party. He also suggested that SYRIZA’s behavior was similar to Golden Dawn’s in some respects. “The extremes are defined by their actions and, unfortunately for SYRIZA, it has many similarities with Golden Dawn,” he said.
The neo-Nazis, meanwhile, put out a statement claiming that it is coming under attack from all sides because it is “the only voice of truth and the only voice of Greeks in Parliament.” PASOK called for the anti-racism bill, which has been held up mainly due to reservations within New Democracy, to be submitted to Parliament as soon as possible.