Monday, 2 April 2012
Greek far right politician slaps opposition on live TV
ATHENS, Greece — Greece's election campaign turned ugly Thursday on live TV: The spokesman of the extreme-right Golden Dawn party, after trading insults of "commie" and "fascist," lunged at two female left-wing politicians on a mainstream morning talk show, throwing water at one and smacking the other three times across the face.
The violent display reminiscent of trash TV, a week and a half ahead of crucial elections, stunned Greeks as they seek to avoid a catastrophic exit from Europe's common euro currency. A prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for Ilias Kasidiaris, whose party alarmed Europe by gaining 21 of Parliament's 300 seats in Greece's inconclusive May 6 elections.
Golden Dawn, which vehemently denies the neo-Nazi label, has been accused of violent attacks against immigrants in Athens. The party denies involvement in the attacks, insisting it is a nationalist patriotic group. It campaigned on a platform of ridding the country of illegal immigrants and cleaning up crime-ridden neighborhoods, and advocates planting anti-personnel mines along Greece's borders to stop migrants from sneaking across.
The attack "put on public display what was widely known," said the radical left-wing Syriza party, whose member Rena Dourou was splashed with water on the show. "The true face of this criminal organization."
Tempers frayed on the daily morning political show on the private Antenna television station during a political debate, to which representatives of all seven parties that won parliamentary seats on May 6 had been invited.
Discussion had turned to the country's natural resources. But it went off on a tangent about political history in Greece, which suffered a vicious civil war between Communists and the right-wing after World War II, and a seven-year military dictatorship that ended in 1974.His burst of aggression during the TV debate followed a reference by SYRIZA's Dourou to his forthcoming trial.
"I call on all Greeks to defend our history and shut our ears to those selling cheap nationalism," Dourou told reporters.
The Greek presidency, the government and political rivals were quick to condemn the assault, and some urged Golden Dawn supporters to abandon the party.
"We are urging citizens who voted for Golden Dawn to reconsider," said Fofi Gennimata, a spokeswoman for the Socialist PASOK party. No PASOK representatives will take part in future TV debates with Golden Dawn members, she said.
The president's office said the assault was an affront to democracy. "We will not tolerate the violation of democratic rules..." it said in a statement.