Government says no general election if Golden Dawn quits parliament [update]

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou appeared to rule out on Friday the possibility that national elections would be called if Golden Dawn MPs quit Parliament.

The far right party’s leader Nikos Michaloliakos said late Thursday that “all options are open” after a crackdown on Golden Dawn’s activities in the wake of rapper Pavlos Fyssas being murdered by one of the group’s members.

There has been speculation that if all of the party’s 18 MPs quit, conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras would call snap general elections. Speaking to Star TV Friday, Kedikoglou said that by-elections would be held instead.

“Democracy cannot be blackmailed,” he said. “Justice will complete the task it has undertaken.”

“If we need to have by-elections, they will be held in the constituencies where MPs have to be replaced,” the government spokesman said.

By-elections are uncommon in Greece and some observes have suggested the development could lead to national elections.

On Friday, conservative MP Dora Bakoyannis attacked the neo-Nazi party’s suggestion of a possible walkout to trigger early elections.

“Golden Dawn will have to understand that there are laws and democracy in this country. The realization will make them writhe in pain,” Bakoyannis told Skai on Friday.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Michaloliakos said the party would exhaust all legal means “to defend our political honor.”

Asked if a decision by his party to walk out of parliament would destabilize the country, he said: “Everything is open. Golden Dawn will defend itself.”

“Golden Dawn is a legal political movement, whose rise has displeased those who have squandered the sweat of the Greek people for decades,” Michaloliakos said.

“Criminals and criminal gangs are those who bankrupted the country and handed over our national sovereignty,” he said.

Polls since the killing show decreasing support for the party. An Alco poll on Sept. 25 showed Golden Dawn falling by 4 percentage points to 6.8 percent. That still leaves the party as the third-strongest after Samaras’s New Democracy and leftist SYRIZA opposition.

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