The intention of the government and the opposition to prevent convicted neo-Nazi Ilias Kasidiaris from taking a fresh run at Parliament with his new party is obvious. I don’t know if it will work, though, because history has shown that such efforts rarely have the desired effect and those being barred can simply bypass the system by forming a new party.
A typical example is the United Democratic Left, which was formed in 1951 mainly by members of the outlawed Greek Communist Party (KKE) and supported by it. Seven years after it was formed, it became the country’s second biggest party in the 1958 elections thanks to a policy of broad alliances. Banning KKE therefore didn’t work because people always find a way to express their political leanings. That is how democracy works.
I understand ruling New Democracy’s craving for an outright majority, but it is wrong to try securing it by changing the rules of the game at the last minute. Because banning Kasidiaris’ party is in service to this effort. If it had been the result of political sensibilities, the relevant amendment would have been submitted to Parliament as soon as the party was announced and not just a couple of months before the elections, and especially when it seems like it might even garner enough votes to secure a seat in the House.
It would be much more effective and less questionable from an institutional point of view if the government were simply to raise the level for entry from 3% to 4%. Given that it is already prepared to “cheat” – despite the consequences on its liberal profile – it should do so properly. And if the ends justify the means, I would also recommend that it change the election law again and bring back the 50-seat bonus in the second round with an enhanced majority.
In short, an institutional intervention so soon before the elections is not recommended; the responsibility now lies with the people.