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Golden Dawn, Smaller Parties Will Get Campaign Air Time

They riot against immigrants, now Golden Dawn will be seen on TV giving campaign speeches to woo Greek voters

ATHENS – Greece’s curious campaign laws, which allow the ruling parties to dominate television coverage regardless of newsworthiness, have been amended by the country’s highest court, the Council of State, opening the airwaves to smaller political parties, including the neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn, which is rising in the polls.
The ruling means that the two parties sharing a shaky hybrid government and which have ruled the country alternately the past 35 years, the PASOK Socialist and New Democracy Conservatives, will no longer get the most television coverage and rule the newscasts, opening the door for Greeks to see smaller parties for the first time during a campaign.
The five official parties in the Parliament, plus the Greens, had already voted themselves $40 million of taxpayer money to fund their campaigns, which will mostly consist of politicians, fearing assaults by Greeks furious over austerity measures, giving speeches in closed rooms to their own members.
New Democracy and PASOK, despite their support for pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions, and reducing the minimum wage, are still expected to finish 1-2 based on current polls. They would need to form another coalition as neither would have enough support to rule outright. That raises the stakes for parties who opposed two bailouts of $325 billion from the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) Troika, which demanded austerity in return.
The Council of State on Monday accepted an appeal by the small liberal Drasi party led by Stefanos Manos. They objected to a cross-party committee decision to award airtime just to the five parties who won seats at the 2009 elections and the Ecologist Greens, who won a seat in the European Parliament in the same year. The same privilege was also given to the four parties represented in Parliament, but they did not take part in the 2009 elections – Independent Greeks, Democratic Alliance, Democratic Left and Social Pact.
Minister of State Pantelis Kapsis and Interior Minister Tassos Giannitsis changed the rules governing the allocation of airtime on private and public TV. Now, any party that received more than 0.25 percent at the last general elections or 0.50 at the Euroelections is guaranteed some exposure. State broadcaster ERT is obliged to carry a 45-minute interview with the leader of each party and will have to cover live one of the group’s public rallies. ERT and private channels will have to give each party two five-minute spots during their evening broadcasts and a total of 25 minutes for campaign ads.
This means another six parties apart from PASOK, New Democracy, the Communist Party (KKE), Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and Ecologist Greens will appear on television over the next few days. Among them will be the neofascist Chrysi Avgi of Golden Dawn, which wants all unlawful immigrants out of the party and has been making public appearances. The party got just 0.29 percent of the vote in the 2009 elections but is polling at about 5 percent now. Drasi and the extreme left Antarsya will also be covered. Golden Dawn is prone to give fiery rhetoric as part of what critics call an unabashed racist, anti-Semitic platform.
The issue of a televised debate between party leaders remains undecided. PASOK challenged ND leader Antonis Samaras to a two-way debate with Socialist chief Evangelos Venizelos, but it was rejected on the argument it would just be a speech swap between them. New Democracy wanted a cross-party committee to agree on a format involving more leaders. “They are rejecting dialogue because they are afraid,” said PASOK spokeswoman Fofi Gennimata.
Presenting his party’s manifesto, far Right-Wing LAOS leader Giorgos Karatzaferis called for Greece to form an “alliance of the South” with France, Spain, Italy and Portugal in order to pressure Germany and other core European countries. Karatzaferis, who briefly served in the current coalition before bailing out has seen his popularity plummet as a result. He said he wouldn’t be part of any new coalition unless the government agreed to his idea, although his party is polling so low it might not even return to the Parliament and seems unlikely to be wooed again to be part of the next administration.
(Source: Kathimerini)

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