ATHENS – With all its 18 lawmakers under arrest, the hierarchy of the extremist Golden Dawn party has been operating a prison campaign for the Jan. 25 elections.
The ultra far-right which evidence shows adores Nazism but denies being neo-Nazi surged into Parliament in the 2012 elections by opposing austerity and with a fervent nationalism platform but now is trying to get back in while hampered by charges it is really a criminal gang.
Greeks have seen little of the flag-waving, chanting jingoism that propelled Golden Dawn to power although surveys show it is running fourth with enough of the vote to get back into Parliament – although trials are pending for those who could be re-elected.
Ironically, if either the winner – likely the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) or the ruling New Democracy Conservatives who are running second – can’t form a coalition it would be up to Golden Dawn, if it finishes third, to have a crack at it.
“The television stations might present (our candidates) as knife-wielders, criminals, uneducated, immature but as you can see… they represent the best that Greek society has,” the party’s spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris said – on a recording – at a recent rally as he’s in prison.
“Golden Dawn is writing Greece’s modern political history and we will be the winners,” he told around 300 enthusiastic supporters packed into a hall where members sang the national anthem and chanted: “Homeland, honor, Golden Dawn”.
Kasidiaris, leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and five other outgoing lawmakers are in detention, accused of being part of a criminal group that attacks immigrants and leftists, after a party supporter stabbed a prominent left-wing rapper in 2013.