Convict Kasidiaris’ party barred from elections

Convict Kasidiaris’ party barred from elections

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to ban the far-right National Party-Greeks from participating in the country’s upcoming general election, upholding legal amendments approved by lawmakers.

The amendments adopted by Parliament in February disqualify parties led by politicians convicted of serious offenses or ones that would not “serve the free functioning of [Greece’s] democratic constitution.”

Imprisoned former lawmaker Ilias Kasidiaris and his National Party are not allowed to participate in the May 21 election under those terms. 

The Supreme Court’s 9-1 decision to uphold parliament’s action could affect the outcome of a widely expected second election, since the winning party would likely have an easier time forming a new government with fewer parties represented in the national legislature.

However, the court ruled unanimously that the EAN party, founded by a former deputy prosecutor of the Supreme Court, Anastasios Kanellopoulos, meets the legal requirements to contest the elections, even though its leader publicly stated, before deciding to run his own party in the elections, that he would take over the leadership of Kasidiaris’ party so that it could evade a potential election ban.

Last week, the court barred two other extreme-right parties from the elections: Konstantinos Bogdanos and Prodromos Emfietzoglou’s Patriotic Union and Afroditi Latinopoulou’s Patrida party.

Kasidiaris, 42, founded the National Party-Greeks after receiving a 13-year prison sentence in 2020. He was convicted as a leading member of an extreme right party, Golden Dawn, which was blamed for multiple attacks against migrants and left-wing political activists.

The party was founded as a neo-Nazi group in the 1980s but later claimed to represent a broader nationalist ideology.

“The Supreme Court ruling makes clear that criminal organizations appearing in the guise of a political party cannot be tolerated in the electoral process,” government spokesman Akis Skertsos said after the decision was announced.

“It is the duty of all of us to protect democracy … This ruling is a vindication for the government which led the effort to keep the enemies of democracy out of parliament.”

National Party officials have vowed to fight the ban in European courts. Opinion polls in recent weeks suggested the party would have done well enough in the election to be represented in parliament, with a projected 4% of voter support.

“Democracy has died where it was born,” the National Party said in an online post.

In a statement read out loud by his lawyer, Kasidiaris also vowed to fight the decision.

“The National Party-Greeks was targeted illegally … and tonight, our democratic system of government has been abolished. Half a million Greeks are being deprived of their right to vote for the party of their choice,” the statement said.

Conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is seeking a second term in the election. His center-right New Democracy party is leading in opinion polls but is not expected to achieve an outright majority in Parliament.


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