By a crushing 241-26 vote, the Greek Parliament has approved the cutting off of state funding for the Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn party in a new law that shuts off the public tap for parties accused of criminal activities. Five lawmakers abstained and 28 were absent.
Golden Dawn’s leader and two other of its 18 lawmakers were jailed in September, charged with membership in a criminal organization. Their cases are not directly linked with the killing.
The motion was rejected by about half of Independent Greeks deputies as well as Manolis Glezos, a SYRIZA MP and WWII resistance fighter.
“The violators of Christian values, the distorters of Ancient Greek and all those who tried to corrode Greek society must not be battled with decisions, but politically,” Glezos said.
Speaking ahead of the vote, GD spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris described the party as a pillar of democracy and the judicial system.
In October Greek MPs voted to cut off state funding to political parties if their leaders or a tenth of their lawmakers are charged with involvement in a “criminal organization” or “acts of terrorism.”
GD leader Nikos Michaloliakos and a number of its MPs are currently facing court charges for operating as a criminal organization. The party was due to receive 873,000 euros in state funding this year. The party was due to receive 873,000 euros ($1.2 million) this year. Greece gives political parties money from the state treasury based on their percentage of the vote and Parliament seats.
One Golden Dawn lawmaker, Panagiotis Iliopoulos, said the party was the victim of a political attack and conspiracy and decried the charges against its hierarchy, which he said were based on testimony from “hooded witnesses.” Another of its MPs, Polivios Zisimopoulos claimed that “leftist terrorism,” is targeting Golden Dawn.
Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis argued that, “for the government it is inconceivable that the Greek state and taxpayers should be asked to subsidize a party which is linked with violence and criminal activity, and who also try to cover their true nature under the cloak of democracy.”
He continued, “When we have evidence for illegal activities which go against the principles of the state, its institutions and public order, we have a duty to halt funding for such organizations, which participate in or even orchestrate such alleged crimes, or we will end up giving financial support to criminals.”
He went on: “The way Golden Dawn acts, the fact that it is organized along military lines, along with many testimonies of witnesses which point to the criminal nature of the organization, leaves no room for doubt. We must immediately stop subsidizing Golden Dawn. This is the least we can do to protect our country and our democratic institutions.”
The coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy leader and his partner, the PASOK Socialists, are trying to dismantle Golden Dawn in the wake of the murder in September of an ant-fascist for which a party member was accused.
Prosecutors are said to be mulling whether treason charges can also be brought after video footage and other evidence allegedly showed Golden Dawn wanted to bring down the government.