New Democracy, SYRIZA trade barbs over how to tackle Golden Dawn

In another indication that Greece’s mainstream parties are at a loss regarding how to deal with the rise of Golden Dawn, New Democracy and SYRIZA traded insults on Saturday in the wake of a far-right MP being ousted from Parliament, with government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou accusing the leftists of sharing “many similarities” with the neofascist group.

Kedikoglou was responding to a speech by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to his party’s central committee. Referring to the incident in Parliament on Friday, when Golden Dawn’s Panayiotis Iliopoulos was forced to leave after insulting the leftist leader and refusing to acknowledge deputy parliamentary speaker Yiannis Dragasakis, also a SYRIZA MP, Tsipras suggested that the neofascists’ behavior was a result of the government pandering to the far right.

“Even democrats who support New Democracy are stunned by [Prime Minister Antonis] Samaras’s continuous far-right slip-ups,” he said.

Tsipras added that his party would take a tougher line against Golden Dawn, as Dragasakis had by refusing to let Iliopoulos engage in a rant during the time he was allocated to ask a question.

“From now on, there will be zero tolerance of gangs and those who insult democracy and the history of this country, which paid the Nazis with blood,” he told party members.

Tsipras’s comments prompted a strong response from Kedikoglou, who accused him of “incoherence and irresponsibility” and dismissed his attacks on Samaras as an attempt to unite the “scattered groupings” within the leftist party. He also suggested that SYRIZA’s behavior was similar to Golden Dawn’s in some respects.

“The extremes are defined by their actions and, unfortunately for SYRIZA, it has many similarities with Golden Dawn,” he said.

The far-right party, meanwhile, put out a statement claiming that it is coming under attack from all sides because it is “the only voice of truth and the only voice of Greeks in Parliament.”

PASOK called for the anti-racism bill, which has been held up mainly due to reservations within New Democracy, to be submitted to Parliament as soon as possible.