After successive defections by its former MPs, Golden Dawn is showing signs of disintegration. The challenges to the leadership of the neo-Nazi organization had already become evident as the party prepared its ticket ahead of European Parliament elections in May. The crisis within the party, however, peaked after Golden Dawn failed to enter Parliament in snap elections last month. Meanwhile, the trial against leading members of the party, on charges of belonging to a criminal organization, has entered the stage of testimonies.
A few weeks after his election as MEP, Yannis Lagos, a former MP and among the defendants in the trial, left Golden Dawn to become an independent. He also announced that another three former deputies – namely George Germenis, Nikos Kouzilos and Panagiotis Iliopoulos – would follow suit. In a tweet on election day on July 7, Iliopoulos urged voters to support his former party. “Country, religion, family, Golden Dawn,” he tweeted. A week later, he announced his resignation: “Watching passively as Golden Dawn unravels, as a result of a series of mistakes, does not suit my personality and does not suit my sacrifices.”
The criticism against Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos and the internal disputes had already become evident since the resignation of former MEP Eleftherios Synadinos, who lashed out at what he described as a “circle of idlers inside the movement” and “nepotism” on the side of Michaloliakos. The promotion of Michaloliakos’ wife, Eleni Zaroulia, and their daughter, Ourania Michaloliakou, inside the party caused dissatisfaction among top officials. The departure of Germenis seemed related to his being made to run in the most difficult election district in western Athens, where he stood a very slim chance of being elected.
Having failed to enter Parliament, Golden Dawn has missed out on MP salaries, a portion of which was being used to finance the cost of the trial. In the wake of these developments, the only elected representative from the list of its accused members was MEP Lagos. In an announcement, the organization condemned Lagos’ defection, calling it “treacherous” and “self-interested.” In a last-ditch effort to shift public opinion, Michaloliakos recently organized a rally at a local GD chapter near Piraeus. The same chapter, which fell under Lagos’ area of responsibility, said in an announcement that “willing traitors come to the fore, who like Ephialtes at every crucial moment, turn up on the side of the enemy so as to benefit or to survive in any possible manner.”