Gov’t suggests SYRIZA seeking to draw votes from Golden Dawn supporters

With just a few days left before the crucial double elections on Sunday, party leaders intensified their campaigning on Wednesday with their position on the threat posed by neofacist Golden Dawn a key focus of much of the rhetoric.

Speaking from Maleme, near Hania, on a visit timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Battle of Crete, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras condemned “Nazi sympathizers.” “Blood, sacrifices and our memory of history are violently insulted by those who today bear the symbols of Nazism,” he said, adding that “they remind us the struggle for democracy and freedom never stops.”

Samaras did not take a position on a clash between conservative New Democracy and leftist SYRIZA following statements by leftists suggesting that SYRIZA would welcome votes from Greeks who have previously voted for Golden Dawn. However sources close to Samaras accused SYRIZA of barely contained opportunism. The tense exchanges were triggered by the comments of SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis and the party’s candidate for Athens Mayor Gavriil Sakellaridis. A letter sent by a would-be municipal councilor campaigning with GD spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, Christos Goudis, to Sakellaridis, apparently suggesting a dialogue between the two sides, added fuel to the fire.

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, the junior coalition party leader, lashed out at SYRIZA more directly, accusing the party of pursuing a policy line that was “a populist, nationalist mishmash.” He also called on former PASOK supporters who switched to SYRIZA to come back. Addressing a rally in Athens, Venizelos spoke out too against “disruptive” protests as a group of small bond-holders who lost savings in a private debt restructuring in 2012 demonstrated close by. Four of the protesters were detained.

In a separate development former conservative Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis urged voters to back ND in Sunday’s elections. He said ensuring the party’s strength would safeguard “the political stability necessary for the country.”