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Greek neo-Nazis fail to secure senior parliament post

Members of parliament from the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn party are seen during a vote for deputy speakers at the Greek Parliament, in Athens, on Friday, June 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS: Greece's neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn failed on Friday to get one of its lawmakers elected to a senior parliament post amid strong opposition by other political parties.

The group had nominated former army commando Polyvios Zissimopoulos as one of the chamber's seven deputy speakers, who are entrusted with standing in for the speaker in chairing parliament sessions.

Zissimopoulos secured 41 votes in his favour compared to the required minimum of 75, said parliament speaker Vangelis Meimarakis of the conservative New Democracy party, which leads Greece's new coalition government.

There were also 39 blank and 204 invalid ballots, Meimarakis added.

"As a result, Mr Zissimopoulos will not be elected" and the seat will remain vacant, he said.

The neo-Nazi group was able to muster some support from other parties in the closed ballot as it only has 18 deputies in the 300-seat parliament.

Golden Dawn has ridden a wave of anger over rampant undocumented immigration and a surge in crime, emerging as the fifth-largest party after taking nearly seven percent of the vote in the June 17 election.

The socialist Pasok party, a partner in the coalition, had publicly called on its lawmakers this week to block the Golden Dawn candidacy.

Golden Dawn members have been linked to a number of recent attacks on migrants, and one of their lawmakers assaulted two female deputies during a TV talk show.

The group has pledged to "scour the country clean" of hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants.

 

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