Anti-racism bill put on hold amid coalition disagreement

Plans for the government’s anti-racism bill to be put to public consultation on Friday were placed on hold, ostensibly due to the need for some technical tweaks, but it appeared there was disagreement within the coalition about whether the draft law was the best way to tackle the rise of Golden Dawn.

The unpublished bill aims to introduce tougher sentences for racially motivated crime and to lead to MPs who preach hate and neo-Nazism being prevented from standing for office. Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis had hoped to complete the consultation process in time for the would-be law to be submitted to Parliament this month.

However, government sources suggested that some of the bill’s provisions needed to be “reassessed.” State Minister Dimitris Stamatis, who asked the Justice Ministry to put off publishing the bill, spoke to Roupakiotis about some areas that need to be examined.

The main disagreement, though, appears to be over whether the draft law will act as a deterrent for far-right Golden Dawn or if it will allow the party to claim it is being persecuted and, therefore, turn it into a recruitment exercise. Samaras favors the latter interpretation, while Roupakiotis, a Democratic Left candidate who has had previous run-ins with New Democracy officials in the coalition, believes the former is more likely.