Tuesday September 2, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
29o C
23o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Greek neo-Nazis hold position, aim for Europe

Less than a year ago, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had vowed to "eradicate" neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn as an investigation began into the party’s allegedly criminal activities.

As results filtered in from Sunday’s first round of local elections, it was clear his promise has yet to be met.

Even with most of the party’s 18 lawmakers facing charges including incitement to murder, and a third of them locked up in pre-trial detention, Golden Dawn still managed to boost its support in several areas including Athens.

One of its MPs, Ilias Kasidiaris, who will be tried for assault and illegal weapons possession, picked up over 35,000 votes and 16.12 percent in the Athens mayoral race for a fourth-place finish.

Fellow lawmaker Ilias Panagiotaros, also on trial for assault, secured over 179,000 votes and 11.13 percent as candidate for greater Athens governor, also finishing fourth.

"I shudder to see one in six fellow Athenians voting for a neo-Nazi candidate. We should all shudder," said Andreas Papadopoulos, a moderate leftist politician.

Four other Golden Dawn candidates generally stood their ground in other parts of the country, securing between 5.0 and 8.74 percent.

Samaras recently said he was opposed to banning Golden Dawn, and that it was wiser to combat the party’s appeal politically.

But despite a torrent of allegations about Golden Dawn’s violent, military-style organization, the party’s popularity has stayed firm among a core group of supporters.

The only difference is that the movement has scaled back aggressive street marches and torch-lit gatherings by its black-clad, muscle-bound members and now seeks a lower profile.

With leading members including founder Nikos Michaloliakos behind bars, "Golden Dawn doesn’t have the political means any more to organize demonstrations and other mass events very frequently," said political scientist Vassiliki Georgiadou.

But she notes that beyond this, "nothing has changed substantially" and the party is "still strong," particularly among the young and unemployed.

After six years of recession and four years of austerity cuts, unemployment in Greece is around 27 percent, including over 50 percent among youths.

Many of Golden Dawn’s supporters say they are motivated by despair and anger, not racism.

They include Dimitris, a 35-year-old taxi driver, whose wife had to terminate two pregnancies because they could not afford more mouths to feed.

"Meanwhile, the people who have been in power until now have been lining their pockets," he fumed.

Freighter captain Nikolaos, 53, said he is "too old to be a fanatic."

But he has "had enough with the country’s ruin...and with being part of Europe without seeing any advantage."

The party, which dismisses the investigation as politically motivated, is now setting its sights on the upcoming European Parliament ballot on Sunday.

Two of its European candidates are retired senior military officers.

"I want to be first in Athens and first in the European elections," 33-year-old Kasidiaris, a pharmaceutical company representative, told AFP in spite of the initial results.

"We want to work for the Europe of the nations, not the bankers," added the party spokesman.

In June 2012, Kasidiaris achieved notoriety after getting into a heated dispute with two female left-wing lawmakers during a morning talk show.

He threw water in one lawmaker’s face, then struck the other when she rose to challenge him.

Yet he insists the party abhors violence.

"We are against violence. We fight corruption, criminality, poverty. Our bad reputation has been created by the media," he says.

"People like Golden Dawn. Ask anybody," he adds.

Formerly on the fringe of Greek politics, Golden Dawn surged in popularity in the wake of the country’s debt crisis, tapping into widespread anger over immigration and austerity reforms.

They picked up further support after organising food donations exclusively for Greeks.

Evidence being used against Golden Dawn includes claims of assault against political opponents and migrants, as well as the murders of a Pakistani migrant and a left-wing Greek rapper last year.

"Foreigners don’t have to be afraid, anybody who is legal have no problem with us," Kasidiaris said.

A date for the criminal trials has yet to be set. [AFP]

ekathimerini.com , Monday May 19, 2014 (20:45)  
Rain and storms with hail expected in many parts of Greece
Education minister calls for probe into predecessor´s reform plan
Anti-racism bill goes back to Parliament
Athens condemns Erdogan comments about Cyprus
New committee formed to assess progress of deregulation in closed-shop professions
A new committee consisting of 40 officials from the relevant ministries has been formed by Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis to assess the progress of liberalization measures introduced sin...
Tourism targets rise ever higher
The latest data have allowed the Hellenic Association of Tourism Enterprises (SETE) to raise its target for tourism arrivals and revenues this year higher still. During a meeting with main o...
Inside Business
BASKETBALL
Greek hoopsters go top of their group in World Cup
Greece has qualified to the second round of the FIBA World Cup after going top of its group of six through a third win in as many group games in Spain. On Monday it beat Puerto Rico 90-79 in...
SOCCER
Fulham striker Mitroglou set to re-join Olympiakos
Greek champions Olympiakos Piraeus are set to re-sign Kostas Mitroglou on loan from English second tier club Fulham after the striker arrived in Athens for talks on Sunday. An Olympiakos spo...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Politicized archaeology
Let us suppose that archaeologists discover that the tomb uncovered in Amphipolis was not the resting place of Roxana or Nearchos, but of Alexander the Great. Let us assume, that is, that ar...
EDITORIAL
Moderating expectations
Politics is, to a great extent, all about managing expectations, and anyone who raises that bar too high or too fast is at serious risk of disappointing and losing the people’s favor. In a c...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. New committee formed to assess progress of deregulation in closed-shop professions
2. Rain and storms with hail expected in many parts of Greece
3. Greek hoopsters go top of their group in World Cup
4. Tourism targets rise ever higher
5. Horse race betting hurdle removed for OPAP
6. Revised GDP data confirm that Greek growth is near
more news
Today
This Week
1. Politicized archaeology
2. Rain and storms with hail expected in many parts of Greece
3. Moderating expectations
4. New committee formed to assess progress of deregulation in closed-shop professions
5. Excavation work at Amphipolis reveals section of marble mosaic floor
6. A great president
Today
This Week
1. Thessaloniki mayor Boutaris sworn in wearing yellow star amid Golden Dawn protests
2. The battle against progress
3. Attack on gay couple in Athens leaves one man needing surgery
4. Strong undersea quake occurs off island of Milos, felt in Athens
5. Greek quest for debt relief faces hurdles in Paris
6. Hardouvelis, ECB executive discuss bank program, stress tests
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.