Golden Dawn threatens to destabilise Greek government
27.09.13 @ 09:22
BRUSSELS - Greece’s neo-fascist Golden Dawn threatens to spark snap elections by pulling all 18 of its members from the 300-seat parliament.
If Golden Dawn members walk out, then special elections would have to take place in every district they represent in order to replace them.
Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos on Thursday (26 September) said some polls indicate the opposition would win, which could undermine the ruling coalition, reports Reuters.
"Golden Dawn holds a weapon in its hands to cause a political earthquake. Those in charge should bear that well in mind," he said.
He said no final decision has been made yet to quit the assembly.
Interior Minister Yannis Mihelakis told Skai TV on Thursday that the snap elections would antagonise an already fragile government.
"The whole affair has already damaged the country enough. A general election would just make things worse," he said, referring to the recent murder of a left-wing rapper by a man with alleged Golden Dawn links.
Other leaders dismissed the threat and welcomed the group to leave the parliament.
"It's not a threat. It's a great opportunity," deputy prime minister Evangelos Venizelos told Reuters on Wednesday.
A poll by Rass for the Eleftheros Typos newspaper earlier this week found that support for the neo-fascist group plummeted by 2.5 percentage points to 5.8 percent following the fatal stabbing of Pavlos Fyssas.
Fyssas’ murder sparked protests against the group, when a self-proclaimed Golden Dawn member admitted to plunging a knife into the 34-year-old’s chest.
The party had seen a rise in popularity over the past year but has been accused by human rights groups of committing violent acts against immigrants and Greeks who oppose it.
Golden Dawn members, in some cases, posted YouTube videos of themselves destroying market stands run by immigrants.
Some 10,000 took to the streets in Athens last week in an anti-fascist demonstration organised by unions and activists.
Meanwhile, police made a handful of arrests of Golden Dawn members found illegally carrying or owning firearms. Officers also raided three police stations on Tuesday but only after the government replaced seven senior police officials to ensure “absolute objectivity”.
The government wants to dissolve the group.
But instead of an outright ban, senior officials have opted to find evidence that would label the party as a criminal organisation in a wider effort to undermine it.
A senior court official told reporters on Wednesday that Greek prosecutors investigating the group have already found evidence linking it to criminal activities.
Authorities are also investigating a statement posted overnight on Wednesday on the website of the Hellenic Special Forces Reserve Union.
The statement, allegedly posted by the special forces reservists, calls for the people to unite with the army to overthrow the governing coalition.
It said Greece should withdraw from its bailout obligations and that special courts should be set up to prosecute people responsible for Greece’s financial crisis.