ATHENS / BERLIN
Members of the far-right Golden Dawn party watch the collapsed wall and debris after an explosion at a local offices in Aspropyrgos, west of Athens. EPA photo
Far-right parties remain a headache for Europe, with German
interior ministers voting on whether to back a new attempt to ban the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) amid a bomb explosion at the offices of the far-right Golden Dawn party near Athens yesterday.
Yesterday’s bomb ripped through a wall, smashing the windows of a nearby building but caused no injuries, police said.
The dynamite-packed device was placed outside the party’s local offices in Aspropyrgos, an industrial suburb west of Athens. The office was closed at the time and nobody was injured. Another of its offices in Athens was bombed two years ago, Agence France-Presse reported.
Golden Dawn has surged in popularity during Greece’s debt crisis and was catapulted from obscurity to winning 7 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections in June, riding a wave of public anger at austerity, corrupt politicians and immigrants, Reuters reported. Vote to ban far-right party
Activists and politicians have called for Golden Dawn, whose members have been seen giving Nazi-style salutes and whose emblem resembles a swastika, to be banned. The party denies it is neo-Nazi and frequently accuses journalists and critics of mudslinging and misrepresenting it. A police official who declined to be named said the attack was most likely carried out by a far-left group. “It was a powerful blast that caused a lot of damage,” he said. “It looks like [domestic] terrorism.”
The bomb came a day before the interior ministers of Germany’s 16 federal states vote on whether to back a new attempt to ban the NPD. State leaders will make a final decision today based on their ministers’ guidance on whether to take the case against the NPD to the Federal Constitutional Court, which holds the sole power to strike down a political party. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the authorities were skittish about moving forward without a solid shot at success.
“Such a procedure has a chance but also poses risks,” he said. “The request must be well-prepared because, in the eyes of the federal government, it must not fail a second time before the Constitutional Court.” In 2003, such an attempt spearheaded by the federal government fizzled because the tribunal found that the presence of intelligence agents who had infiltrated the party’s ranks muddied the case against it.
In November 2011, it was discovered that a far-right cell was behind the killings of 10 people, including eight Turkish immigrants.