Golden Dawn’s rise worries government

Top government officials are concerned that the coalition is not going to be able to stop the steady rise of far-right Golden Dawn ahead of next year’s European Parliament elections and are examining the possibility of changing the law to outlaw extremist parties of its ilk.

“Greece is going to give the watching world a nasty surprise in the upcoming Euro elections,” a close aide of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said recently with regard to Golden Dawn’s showing at the polls, which are due to be held next May. The neo-Nazi party, which took 6.9 percent of the vote in last June’s national elections, has consistently taken third place in opinion polls over the last few months with support at 10 to 12 percent.

Sources said that the government is worried that Golden Dawn is successfully portraying itself as an anti-systemic party and that this will draw strong support in the European Parliament elections, when many voters feel less obliged to vote according to their traditional political beliefs.

The premier’s office is also concerned about the tendency for Golden Dawn to claim it is being victimized, allowing the party to appear “heroic” to its supporters. Last Thursday, Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis and Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias prevented Golden Dawn handing out food in Syntagma Square. Samaras’s advisers fear the far-right party may have gained popularity after the incident.

In an interview with Real News weekly on Saturday, Dendias suggested that the next Parliament could approve legislation banning extremist parties as part of a constitutional review.

“The constitutional review gives us the ability to exclude from the party system outgrowths such as Golden Dawn,” he said.