With Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras trying to downplay a secret videotape that showed a former top aide claiming charges against the rival neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party were concocted, major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras said it’s a brewing scandal.
SYRIZA leads Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives in polls ahead of next month’s critical elections for the European Parliament and Greek municipalities. Seeking to capitalize, he dubbed the affair “Samaras Gate,” after the 1974 Watergate debacle that brought down U.S. President Richard Nixon.
The tape showed then Cabinet Secretary Panayiotis Baltakos telling Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, one those arrested in the government crackdown, that the government influenced the judicial system to go after them.
He resigned after it was revealed and said Samaras knew nothing about it and that he was acting as an underground spy and telling lies to get information from Kasidiaris.
Addressing a pre-election rally in Thessaloniki, Tsipras said: “There is no Baltakos Gate, there is a Samaras Gate,” according to the Athens News Agency.
Referring to hardline nationalist elements in New Democracy, Tsipras said the country is ruled by a “far-right sect,” terming Samaras as “dangerous” for democracy and normalcy.” He also suggested Samaras’ coalition partner, PASOK Socialist chief Evangelos Venizelos, is “playing a leading role in a comedy”.
Tsipras said he and all Greeks doubt the Prime Minister didn’t know what Baltakos was doing and what he was saying, even though Baltakos can also be seen on the tape criticizing Samaras.
He called on Samaras “to stop hiding and come to Parliament to provide explanations.” Tsipras said he believes Samaras knew “and he favored what his friend and associate was doing”.
He added: “If Baltakos is the natural instigator of the conspiracy against democracy, Mr. Samaras is the moral instigator. And this alone would be enough for him to be characterized dangerous for democracy.”