Greek neo-Nazis flex muscles after entering new parliament

Supporters of the far right party of Golden Dawn shout slogans and celebrate the results of the elections outside their headquarters office in Thessaloniki, Greece Sunday, June 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis)

ATHENS: Greek neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn vowed it was now a force to be reckoned with after winning 18 seats in parliament in Sunday’s elections despite a number of high-profile assaults involving its candidates.

“Golden Dawn is here to stay,” group leader Nikos Michaloliakos, a 55-year-old mathematician, said after the election results became clear.

Formerly on the fringe of Greek politics, Golden Dawn went from 19,000 votes three years ago to over 440,000 in a first inconclusive election on May 6 after pledging to “scour the country” clean of illegal immigrants.

Greece has around 800,000 legally registered immigrants – many of whom have come from Albania – and a number of undocumented immigrants estimated at more than 350,000, including Afghans, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis.

Many Greeks blame migrants for a rise in violent crime as the country slogs through a five-year recession that has left over a million unemployed.

The group secured nearly 426,000 votes in the elections and the 18 deputies in the 300-seat parliament will include Michaloliakos and his wife.

“Illegal migration is a wound for Greece,” Michaloliakos said late Sunday, praising the party’s showing despite “slander and defamation” from media.

“They failed to plunder our ratings,” he said of other parties, adding that the tightly knit, martial-oriented group was now a “political reality.”

Golden Dawn’s relationship with the media has often been difficult.

Reporters awaiting the group’s first post-election press conference May 6 were stunned when a Golden Dawn member barked orders for them to “stand to attention” when Michaloliakos entered the room.

Greek daily Ta Nea also said Monday that one of its reporters had been manhandled by Golden Dawn members Sunday when he tried to approach the group’s Athens headquarters after exit poll results were announced.

Seated next to Michaloliakos as he delivered his statement Sunday was party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, a 31-year-old former army commando who slapped a female communist politician on live television a week ago and threw water at another woman from the leftist Syriza party.

He was reacting to an accusation from the Syriza politician that Golden Dawn’s policies “would take the country 500 years into the past.”

Kasidiaris faces a trial for assault over his televised stunt, which nevertheless appeared to have galvanized support for the group.

“I have heard it said, from coffee shops to social media sites, why don’t we send Kasidiaris to talk to [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel?” he proudly told an election rally last week.

Michaloliakos says the country should also freeze all loan repayments to “global usurers” and renegotiate the terms of its EU membership.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 19, 2012, on page 11.




Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (

comments powered by Disqus



Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here