Greek politics takes fresh hit

Greece?s politicians condemned on Thursday a physical attack by neo-Nazi Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris on two female parliamentary candidates during a morning TV show, leading some to worry about the deepening of the country?s crisis.

Kasidiaris threw water at SYRIZA?s Rena Dourou and punched Liana Kanelli of the Communist Party (KKE) at least three times as a discussion that also involved several other panelists degenerated into an argument. Kasidiaris and Kanelli disagreed over whether there were oil reserves south of Crete and the former objected to Dourou referring to a pending court case. She also said that the far-right party would ?take the country back 500 years.?

The program went off air and Kasidiaris was ushered into a changing room but later forced his way out. First instance prosecutor Eleni Raikou ordered Kasidiaris?s arrest on charges of attempted grievous bodily harm. As of last night, the would-be MP remained at large.

Party leader Nikos Michaloliakos claimed Kanelli attacked Kasidiaris first and that the incident had been blown out of proportion. Golden Dawn said it was placing an embargo on its representatives speaking to the press. The party, which gained almost 7 percent in the May 6 polls, had attacked the media for not giving its candidates adequate coverage before the polls.

All parties condemned the incident. New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras called for the far-right party to be ?isolated? while his conservative colleague Dora Bakoyannis said it represented a ?dramatic deepening of the crisis of democracy that Greece is facing.?

SYRIZA said the attack had revealed ?the real face of Chrysi Avgi as a criminal organization.? It said that none of its deputies would take part in panel discussions with members of the neo-Nazi party. PASOK and Independent Greeks said they would also boycott such debates.

?The economic crisis became a social one, the social crisis became political and the political crisis became an institutional one,? said PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos.

Kasidiaris, who was elected on May 6 but is not covered by the immunity for MPs as Parliament has been dissolved, is due to go on trial on Monday for a separate incident. He is accused of abetting in the mugging of a student in 2007. He denies the charges.

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