The parliament in Greece approved an amendment late Wednesday to exclude the neo-nazi “Ellines” party from elections.
The party is led by Ilias Kasidiaris, a former deputy and spokesman for the Golden Dawn party, who is currently in jail.
Of the opposition parties, only the center-left PASOK-KINAL party supported the amendment proposed by the Nea Dimokratia (ND) government.
The main opposition SYRIZA party voted present, while the Greek Communist Party (KKE), the left-wing MeRA25 party led by former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and the right-wing Elliniki Lisi party voted no.
“No one in this room wants to go through, to see again… the parliamentary representation of a few becoming a vehicle of violence against citizens leading to brutal murders and injuries,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said before the vote, calling on lawmakers to approve it.
Greece’s neo-nazi ban “too generic”
Speaking in parliament before voting on the amendment, SYRIZA’s leader Alexis Tsipras claimed that the ND government aims to gather far-right votes by blocking the Ellines party from the elections and not exclude formations with Nazi ideologies.
He accused the government of submitting the amendment with petty political calculations and with the aim of “fishing in the murky waters of the extreme right and false patriotism.”
Opposition parties have expressed reservations about the amendment claiming that the conditions imposed are too generic.
The party also claimed that the vague and apparently neutral wording of the provision indicates that it is not directed exclusively at convicted neo-Nazis and leaves room for dangerous and ahistorical misinterpretations by invoking the theory of the two extremes.
“The legislative proposal should be clear about neo-Nazis and not open a back door for expanded interpretations and equating Nazism with any other political ideology,” it warned.
Responding to SYRIZA, Interior Minister Makis Voridis said: “Our intention is clear. Criminals cannot impersonate political party leaders,“ adding the government does not have any other agenda as claimed by the main opposition leader.
In October 2020, Kasisiaris was convicted of directing a criminal organization and sentenced to 13 years in prison, allegations for which he maintains his innocence.
In a statement, Kasidiaris demanded that the amendment be immediately withdrawn and accused the government of “plotting against democracy” for its own interests.