Neo-Nazis’ Parliament withdrawal suicide, says Greek FM

Neo-Nazis’ Parliament withdrawal suicide, says Greek FM

NEW YORK - Reuters
Neo-Nazis’ Parliament withdrawal suicide, says Greek FM

Venizelos said a forced new election could harm Golden Dawn. REUTERS photo

Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party would damage itself if it tries to force elections by walking out of Parliament in a pique over a government crackdown, the country’s deputy prime minister said on Sept. 25.

Evangelos Venizelos, who is also foreign minister in a coalition government, was responding to Greek media reports that Golden Dawn, which denies a neo-Nazi label, was considering pulling its 18 deputies from the 300-seat Parliament, hoping to force political change.

“This is a kind of political suicide for them,” Venizelos predicted in an interview with the top editors at Reuters in New York. “It’s not a threat. It’s a great opportunity.”

The party did not confirm any plans for a walkout on its website and did not immediately respond to calls from Reuters.

Third most popular

Golden Dawn entered Parliament for the first time last year, capitalizing on discontent over a financial crisis that has seen incomes plummet and unemployment rise to nearly 28 percent.

A fringe party until recently, it has become Greece’s third most popular political force in opinion polls.
But its support dropped by a third this month after an anti-racism rapper was stabbed to death by a self-proclaimed supporter. Golden Dawn denied it had anything to do with the killing.

Venizelos said the government was taking all possible legal measures against Golden Dawn, including sending police and prosecutors to investigate other possible criminal activities such as illegal fundraising and links to the underworld.

 Greek media reported that Golden Dawn was considering pulling its deputies from Parliament in reaction to the crackdown, hoping to force new elections, at least in some constituencies if not nationally, in order to show their standing is strong and to shake the political establishment.

Venizelos said opinion polls showed their standing had quickly declined after the killing, which had unified mainstream political parties against Golden Dawn.