Cornered neo-Nazis threaten to provoke by-elections in Greece
ATHENS - Agence France Presse
Police advance past a burning barricade as they clash with anti-fascist protesters in the western Athens working class suburb of Keratsini on September 18, 2013, after a leftist musician was murdered by a suspected neo-Nazi. AFP photoCornered by a police probe into its activities, Greece's neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn has threatened to disrupt politics by ordering the mass resignation of its lawmakers.
The move, which would prompt by-elections in 15 regions around the country, came as investigators sought to prove a link between Golden Dawn members and the murder of an anti-fascist musician last week.
"We will exhaust any means within our legal constitutional rights to defend our political honour," the party's leader Nikos Michaloliakos told reporters late on Thursday.
"Everything is open. If the country enters a cycle of instability, it is those who demonise Golden Dawn who will be responsible, not (us)," he said.
By-elections could hurt the coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, which has a slim majority of 155 MPs in the 300-seat parliament.
Samaras's conservative party is neck-and-neck in the polls with the radical leftist Syriza party which opposes Greece's EU-IMF austerity bailout.
The fatal stabbing of 34-year-old hip hop artist Pavlos Fyssas by a self-confessed neo-Nazi on September 18 has prompted a nationwide crackdown on Golden Dawn, whose members are suspected of carrying out prior attacks on migrants and political rivals.
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Friday said an investigation into possibly illegal activities by group members would conclude in the next two weeks amid reports that Golden Dawn lawmakers could be called to testify.
Wiretaps are likely to implicate at least three Golden Dawn lawmakers in alleged criminal acts, reports said on Friday.
Golden Dawn in 2012 elected 18 members of parliament, in 15 regions.
It currently polls at around seven percent, having lost ground among voters after Fyssas's murder.
This means that Golden Dawn could lose most, if not all, of its parliamentary seats if its lawmakers resign and by-elections are called.
One constitutional expert on Friday called the move "a ploy of desperation." "If its lawmakers resign and by-elections are held...it will find itself outside parliament," Stavros Tsakirakis, a professor of constitutional law at Athens university, wrote in Ta Nea daily.