Both the political system and justice have failed

Both the political system and justice have failed

The way the Greek political system handled a major institutional and political issue such as banning the party formed by Ilias Kasidiaris, the former Golden Dawn lawmaker who is serving a 13-year prison sentence for membership in a criminal organization, was not only not exemplary, but it is likely to lead to a strengthening of the appeal of the anti-systemic extreme right.

Even if his party, the National Party-Greeks, is not allowed to participate in the May 21 elections, its voters – who may even reach 5% if we take into account the extent to which their numbers are underestimated in opinion polls – will be channeled somewhere else. This important percentage will find a way to be recorded, to influence developments, to punish.

Another question that arises, but does not appear in the public debate, is what will happen in the second election, which is the most important both for the formation of a government and for definitely determining whether the extreme right will participate in a regular parliamentary term.

With the unfortunate delays and vacillations that occurred, the political system ended up with the worst possible result.

First, the sloppiness exhibited and all kinds of interventions strengthened rather than limited the anti-systemic anger.

Second, if the Supreme Court blocks Kasidiaris’ party, there will be an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, not a minor issue even if the validity of the electoral process of May 21 is not put into question.

If, in the first elections – which will be held using proportional representation and are not expected to lead to the formation of a government – the banning of Kasidiaris’ party would just send a message but would not affect political developments, the same is not true for the second vote.

A party that will largely reflect Kasidiaris’ positions could still participate in the second elections and could ensure its entry into Parliament. Even if Anastasios Kanellopoulos – the man who last week replaced Kasidiaris as head of the National Party-Greeks to free it of the legal burden associated with the former’s conviction – is not allowed to run, there will be someone else from the extreme right, without ties or contacts to Kasidiaris, who will secure the support of the former GD official and the vote of the vast majority of his followers. Eventually, what all parties profess to want to prevent will happen.

A final note: It is not only the political system that, in general, did not rise to the occasion. It is also the judiciary that bears a huge responsibility for the fact that so many years have passed and the appeal trial concerning the criminal activity of Golden Dawn has not yet been finalized. 

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