ATHENS – Panayiotis Psomiadis, the scandal-riddled former governor of Central Macedonia who is coordinating New Democracy’s election campaign in northern Greece, has reportedly told journalists he has no problems with the ideas expressed by the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party with the exception of the violence it has been implicated in, and is even trying to convince some of its members to join his party. Golden Dawn members have been charged in a number of vicious assaults on lone immigrants while its spokesman, Ilias Kasidiaris, punched Communist party Member of Parliament Liana Kanelli on live television and threw a glass of water at another leftist.
Psomiadis is still trying to live down a leaked video showing him at a New Democracy meeting in the northern city of Kilkis where leaders asked members to find those who were “fed” by the party when it ruled from 2004 to 2009 and force them to vote for New Democracy again in the wake of defections ahead of the critical June 17 elections.
The party lost supporters in the stalemated May 6 elections while Golden Dawn got 6.2 percent of the vote and 21 seats in a Parliament. The Parliament met only for a few hours and was dissolved as it gained New Democracy supporters. The neo-Nazis fell to 4.2 percent in the most recent polls allowed after its leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, said the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews died at the hands of Nazis in World War II, never happened. He said his party is nationalistic and patriotic although its ideas are aligned to the Nazi regime that occupied Greece in WWII.
Psomiadis was reported to have told reporters that New Democracy would perform well in Thrace as it was attracting support from “sibling center right parties” such as Democratic Alliance, Independent Greeks, Drasi and Chrysi Avgi. He said that, “Personally, I’m not bothered by Chrysi Avgi, apart from any extreme behavior, which I condemn,” without going on to mention its Hitler-fawning ideology. Psomiadis was allowed back into New Democracy to rally voters after being ousted last year when he was found guilty of cancelling a fine for a gas station while he headed his district in the Thessaloniki prefecture.
Psomiadis has been implicated in one of the most notorious scandals uncovered in Northern Greece yet, mostly from taped phone calls by the national intelligence service which found he was collaborating with gangs to defraud the state in phony construction projects which were paid out but remained on paper only. He was convicted this year on one of those offenses and sentenced to a year in jail and three years parole. Despite his crimes, Samaras said he had trust in Psomiadis to run his campaign in northern Greece.
The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party that is running neck-to-neck with New Democracy to win the elections, although neither would have enough votes to form a government without getting others to form a coalition, said Psomiadis’ comments prove that New Democracy “can only fill with fear citizens with the slightest democratic sensitivities.” The Conservatives earlier accused SYRIZA of placing a candidate on its election list that had spoken out in favor of an armed rebellion, but the man identified in the video said he had been rejected by SYRIZA.
(Sources: Kathimerini, Ta Nea, tvxs.gr)
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