Greece’s Supreme Court Bans Far-Right Party From European Elections

Greece’s Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on the legality of the far-right “Spartiates” (Spartans) party by June this year following a ruling that its parliamentary leader, Vassilis Stigkas, is in a fact a proxy of Ilias Kasidiaris, a convicted felon and second-in-command of the banned neo-nazi party and criminal organisation, Golden Dawn.

Earlier in April, the Court had charged 11 MPs “on suspicion of deceiving voters in a June 2023 national election by taking guidance from a jailed politician” and banned their participation in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

The party had managed to win an impressive 12% of the vote in the 2023 general elections after Ilias Kasidiaris’s “Ellines” (Greeks) party was disqualified on the grounds of his felony conviction, his undemocratic credentials with Golden Dawn, and in the context of legal amendments introduced in the run-up to the May 21 elections.

Kasidiaris had then endorsed the Spartiates party and instructed his supporters to vote for them instead. Upon the new far-right party’s entry to the Greek Parliament, Vassilis Stigkas thanked Kaisidiaris for his support, raising suspicions over potential collusion:

“I thank Ilias Kasidiaris for being the fuel that gave us the impetus to reach this result.”

Indeed, the court’s decision affirmed that Stigkas and his lawmakers acted as a proxy group for the former Golden Dawn deputy who controlled intra-party politics from prison, as frequent visitations by Spartiates MPs had indicated.

On the matter of the party’s real leadership, the 122-page judgment read the following:

“It appears that the Spartiates party, whose real leader is Ilias Kasidiaris […] promotes a policy that does not respect democracy and aims to weaken and destroy the democratic polity and the institutions of the rule of law, in particular by the use of violence or the incitement to violence, as well as the justification thereof, the promotion of totalitarian ideologies, the spread of racist and intolerant ideas and xenophobia, the approval of crimes against humanity, hatred against persons and groups, actions and declarations that threaten the peaceful coexistence of social groups in the country”.

Indeed, it was established that Stigkas acted as a mere figurehead for Kasidiaris, making thus his party a “Troyan horse” for Golden Dawn’s return to the Greek Parliament.

Background: A (Very) Short History of Golden Dawn:

Golden Dawn was founded in 1985 by Nikos Michaloliakos, a militant neo-nazi who in 1979 was convicted for “carrying illegal weapons and explosives as a member of a far-right group”.

During his prison sentence, Michaloliakos met with jailed members of the Greek junta (1967-1974) and its leader, former dictator Georgios Papadopoulos. In the following year, Michaloliakos began publishing the “Golden Dawn” magazine, a conspicuously neo-nazi publication that featured a portrait of Adolph Hitler in its early volumes.

Following the magazine’s closure in 1984 and his brief involvement with Papadopoulos’s National Patriotic Union (EPEN), Michaloliakos left EPEN in 1985 to found Golden Dawn which first registered as a political party in the run-up to the 1993 elections. Its thrust into mainstream Greek politics came in 2012 after years of operating on the fringe of Greek politics. Golden Dawn successfully branded itself as an ultranationalist populist party, gaining 21% of the total vote and 18 seats in the Greek Parliament.

Albeit making little effort to conceal its neo-nazi identity and roots, Golden Dawn enjoyed steady levels of support and operated with relative impunity, in downtown Athens, committing violent pogroms and attacks against migrants, left-wing students and journalists. Its activities were largely unimpeded and sometimes even permitted by the Greek police whose ranks had been infiltrated by Golden Dawn members who had formed cells within certain police units in Athens to collude more effectively with the group’s anti-migrant campaigns. Austerity-stricken Greece, suffering from the worst economic crisis in its post-war history, was indeed a fertile ground for the rise of the militant far-right group which operated in a networked manner, organised in municipal and regional headquarters, but yet with a hierarchical organisational structure comprised of Nikolaos Michaloliakos and Ilias Kasidiaris as its party leader and deputy respectively.

A report by Golden Dawn Watch describes the group’s official party offices in central Athens and the port city of Piraeus as its main “mechanism of disseminating criminal activity”.

“[Its storm troops,] the militarized bodies of armed Golden Dawn members … spread terror in the street markets and neighbourhoods in the day, while during the night they attacked immigrants and leftists. The command of the storm troops, the core of the criminal action, is identified with the leading core of the Golden Dawn.”

The cold-blooded murder of a Greek rapper, Pavlos Fissas, in the Piraeus suburb of Keratsini on September 18, 2013, marked the beginning of the end for Golden Dawn; its leaders were arrested shortly after and prosecuted for “ordering and directing a criminal organization, murder, racist and other violent attacks and illegal possession of weapons.

Konstantinos K
Konstantinos Khttps://substack.com/@polity21hq
Konstantinos is postgraduate student, researcher and founder of Polity21. He writes primarily on Greek-Turkish relations, conflict and power politics in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. Academic and journalistic interests also include among others Astropolitics, Remote Warfare and U.S. Grand Strategy.

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