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Greece Bans Party Linked to Neo-Nazi Group from National Elections

Syntagma Square Greek Parliament, Athens, Greece
Greece has banned an offshoot of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party from participating in the upcoming elections in May. Credit: Tomas Wolf / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

The Supreme Court in Greece has prohibited a political party associated with the extremist organization Golden Dawn, which espouses neo-Nazi ideology, from participating in the upcoming parliamentary elections on May 21.

The court has prohibited the far-right Hellenes party, founded by the convicted former senior member of the now disbanded Golden Dawn party, Ilias Kasidiaris, from putting forward political candidates in the elections scheduled for later this month.

Kasidiaris, who was previously a representative and legislator for the far-right organization Golden Dawn, established the Hellenes party in 2020. He formed the party a few months prior to being incarcerated for directing a criminal organization.

Ilias Kasidiaris
Ilias Kasidiaris. Credit: DTRocks / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 4.0

Neo-Nazi party banned from elections in Greece

On Tuesday, the court’s assembly voted to support amendments made by parliament in February. The amendments exclude parties led by politicians who have been convicted of serious crimes and those that do not comply with Greece’s democratic constitution. The decision was made by a majority of nine to one.

As as result, the Hellenes party led by Ilias Kasidiaris will be unable to participate in the elections this May. The party was founded in 2020 after a split from Golden Dawn, another party long decried by a broad cross section of the political spectrum in Greece for its neo-Nazi ideology.

Kasidiaris, who was a prominent member Golden Dawn, received a 13-year prison sentence in 2020 for several crimes, including the operation of a criminal organization. After his sentencing, Kasidiaris established the Hellenes Party.

Despite his imprisonment, Kasidiaris continues to communicate with his political supporters online via YouTube video content. His YouTube account has more than 120,000 followers.

Prior to Tuesday’s court ruling, he denounced what he referred to as “an unimaginable coup against democracy” and accused Greek lawmakers intent on barring the neo-Nazi associated party from running in the election as denying the rights of the “hundreds of thousands of voters” who support the Hellenes party.

The prohibition of a party from participation in the upcoming elections is believed to be the first such case in Greek history since the restoration of democracy in the country after the fall of the military junta in 1974.

Upcoming elections

Greece officially launched the election campaign on April 22 after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the dissolution of parliament and the holding of elections on May 21.

Elections “are a great celebration of democracy,” said Mitsotakis, who added that his wish is for a “fruitful debate” by political parties, “so that citizens can soberly judge who should govern them for the next four years.”

The election will take place in the aftermath of a deadly train crash at Tempi which claimed the lives of 57 people and has shaken the country.

The popularity of Mitsotakis’s center-right New Democracy party has declined in polls after the deadliest train crash in Greece’s history late on Feb. 28, but the party is still leading over the leftist SYRIZA party of former premier Alexis Tsipras.

With the barring of the neo-nazi Hellenes party on Tuesday, now one less political party will be participating in the elections.

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