June 23. 2024. 1:52

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Top judge claims government made him ‘offer’ to ban Greek neo-Nazi party


The political temperature in Athens rose sharply on Wednesday after former vice president of the Supreme Court Christos Tzanerrikos claimed that a government official made him an “offer” to find a way to ban a neo-Nazi party from running the May elections.

Far-right “National Party – Greeks” founded by jailed Elias Kasidiaris, a key figure of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, is trying to find ways to bypass a law banning criminal organisations from running in the elections.

The case lies in the hands of Greek justice, and according to polls, the party seems likely to enter parliament.

The justice is expected to decide on the matter on 5 May, a few weeks before the 21 May elections.

But a series of events has caused turmoil in Greek politics.

The conservative New Democracy government passed legislation in February banning criminal organisations from running in the national elections.

The decision was supposed to be made by the A1 Department of the Supreme Court, presided by Tzanerrikos.

However, in a last-minute amendment, the government decided to take the issue to the Supreme Court plenary, triggering the strong reaction of the top judge.

Greek neo-Nazis seek ‘loopholes’ to run in elections

Far-right “National Party – Greeks” founded by jailed Elias Kasidiaris, a key figure of neo-Nazi Golden Dawnparty, is trying to find ways to bypass a law banning criminal organisations from running in the elections.

Tzanerrikos accused the government of intervening in justice affairs and then resigned.

Several experts in constitutional law criticised Tzanerrikos, saying the justice should abstain from such public statements.

The government denied that they made an “offer”, while unofficial government sources stressed that Tzanerrikos’ reaction was “revenge” as, in the past, he did not get the top Supreme Court job he desired.

The issue caused the reaction of the main opposition leftist Syriza party (EU Left), asking Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to name the person who attempted the alleged bribery.

“Mitsotakis cannot once again pretend to be ignorant. He must answer. Who is the top government official who intervened directly in exchange for a court order?” Syriza said in a statement.

Syriza stresses that how the government handled the neo-Nazi party case has been politically harmful; with these developments, the neo-Nazi party’s visibility skyrocketed.

The political atmosphere in Athens has been substantially polarised ahead of the national elections.

Most polls show New Democracy will rank first, however, many analysts project a “neck-and-neck” race with Syriza.

It is still unclear whether a coalition government could be formed in the first round of the elections.

New Democracy insists on a single-party government but winks at Greek socialists as a potential coalition partner.

For its part, Syriza eyes a coalition with the country’s progressive forces, including the Greek socialists.

EURACTIV understands that everything will depend on which party will rank first.

(Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com)