Greece’s Supreme Court has barred a convicted neo-Nazi from competing in upcoming national elections. But despite that decision, the court has allowed another extreme-right, nationalist party to run, raising fears that it can soak up reactionary votes, and enter parliament.
The Greek Supreme Court assembly voted nine to one to disqualify Ilias Kasidiaris and his party, called The Greeks, from the May 21 polls.
It is the first time a party has been banned since the 1974 restoration of democracy, in the birthplace of democracy.
In its 400-page ruling, the Supreme Court called Kasidiaris “undemocratic,” citing his conviction and imprisonment in 2020 for targeting migrants, members of the LGBT community and left-wing politicians while at the helm of Golden Dawn, an ultranationalist neo-Nazi party that has also been designated a criminal organization.
Sixty other leading members and active supporters of that party, among the most violent neo-Nazi movements in Europe, were also jailed at the time, pushing Golden Dawn out of the parliament and out of operation.
“This ruling, he says, is historic and it strengthens but also shields democracy,” said government spokesman Akis Skertso.
From prison, appealing to a massive following, Kasidiaris blasted the ruling. He said it was a broad swipe against democracy and vowed to challenge it both at home and at the European Union Court of Justice.
Polls published this week show Kasidiaris’ public support at about 4%, just over the 3% threshold needed to win entry into the Greek parliament. And while his disqualification now makes it easier for incumbent conservatives to win the May 21 polls, another decision by the Supreme Court has allowed a far-right party called EAN to run.
That has observers and politicians concerned.
“The bigger issue is where Kasiadiris will drive his supporters to. They are not insignificant numbers,” explained Kostas Chrysogonas, a candidate with the socialist PASOK party.
The far-right EAN party is run by a former Supreme Court justice.
Last month, Kasidiaris named that retired justice the head of his party before he broke off to form his own political grouping or what some fear may open a back door for Kasidiari’s return to active politics.