Ilias Kasidiaris, spokesman for Golden Dawn and the Os Helenos party, was barred from running in the May 21 parliamentary election. Photo DTRocks/Creative Commons

The Supreme Court of Greece banned, this Tuesday (2), the participation, in the elections of the 21st, of a political party founded by a former member of the neo-Nazi organization Golden Dawn, who is serving a prison sentence of 13.5 years since October 2020.

Ilias Kassidiaris, former spokesman for Golden Dawn and leader of the far-right Os Helenos party, will not be able to run as a candidate in the elections that will take place in three weeks, nor will his supporters. The judges considered the Hellenes a “continuation of the Golden Dawn”.

Kassidiaris was a neo-Nazi party deputy from 2012 to 2019. Even from prison, he had recently announced his intention to run for a deputy seat. Several other Golden Dawn leaders are also arrested as members of a criminal organization.

Read also: Neo-Nazis from Greece, Germany and… Brazil

The decision of the Supreme Court assembly, announced by its president, Altan Kokovou, was taken by a majority of 9 votes against 1 of the judges of this institution. Another small right-wing party, EAN, was granted court authorization to contest the election.

Greek government spokesman Akis Skertsos hailed what he called a “historic decision” that would prevent “enemies of democracy” from sitting in parliament. “It is our common duty to protect democracy,” he added.

Banning a party from participating in elections is a novelty since the restoration of democracy in Greece in 1974 after seven years of dictatorship by the colonels.

In February, Parliament adopted an amendment to the 2021 electoral law that indicated that a political party cannot participate in elections if its leadership has been convicted of belonging to a criminal organization. The final decision rested with the Supreme Court.

Read also: Greece: Golden Dawn is considered a criminal organization

Before this ban, Ilias Kassidiaris had denounced “an unimaginable coup d’état against democracy” by leaving “hundreds of thousands of voters” of his party out of the poll. Golden Dawn members were convicted in 2020 of the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas and other crimes including murder, assault and running a criminal organization.

He is an admirer of the Third Reich and has a swastika tattooed on his left arm. He once slapped a communist legislator on television. He preaches to his 120,000 YouTube followers and through prison voicemails.

Its popularity peaked in Greece’s financial crisis, alarming European partners. The group was at 10% in the polls in 2013, making it the third most popular party. In 2019 it failed to elect any seats to Parliament, but now it would have around 4% of the vote, reaching the 3% threshold needed to secure a seat.

Read also: Right-wing New Democracy wins Greek elections


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