The Greeks (Hellenes) Party is the first party to be disqualified since the restoration of democracy in 1974.
Greece’s Supreme Court has agreed to ban the far-right party of Greeks (Hellenes) from taking part in the country’s upcoming general election, set for May 21.
The court’s assembly on Tuesday decided by a nine-to-one majority to uphold amendments passed by parliament in February, which disqualify parties led by politicians convicted of serious crimes, as well as parties that would not “serve”. of the free functioning of [Greece’s] democratic constitution.”
Under those conditions, imprisoned former lawmaker Ilias Kasidiaris and his Greek party will not be allowed to participate in the vote, despite polls above the 3 percent threshold required to gain representation in parliament.
The ban, which was widely supported by Greece’s mainstream political parties, was upheld despite a last-minute change in the leadership of the Greek party.
Former assistant Supreme Court prosecutor Anastasios Kanellopoulos, 75, replaced Kasidiaris as leader of the Greek party last month and announced plans to review the party’s charter.
The decision could affect the outcome of the election, as the winning party will likely have an easier time forming a new government with fewer parties represented in the national legislature.
Conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is seeking a second term in the elections. His centre-right New Democratic Party (Néa Dimokratía) is leading in opinion polls, but is unlikely to win an outright victory.
The nationalist leader, Kasidiaris, founded the Greek Party after serving a 13-year prison sentence in 2020. He was convicted as a leading member of a far-right party, Golden Dawn (Chrysí Avgí), for the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos. Fyssas and other crimes, including murder, assault, and running a criminal organization.
He was sentenced to 13.5 years behind bars, but has communicated with his supporters through prison voice messages and a YouTube channel with more than 120,000 followers.
‘Coup against democracy’
In an online post following the leadership change, Kasidiaris welcomed Kanellopoulos’ nomination and added that he intended to seek a parliamentary seat in next month’s elections. Under Greek law, most prisoners retain their political rights.
Before the ruling, he had denounced “an unimaginable coup against democracy” by those who tried to deny the vote of “hundreds of thousands of voters” who supported his party.
Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou told TV channel Skai last month that “there should be no room for knife-wielding neo-Nazi criminal organizations to mislead the Greek justice system.”
“There is a sufficient framework in place for any criminal organization – regardless of the mantle it chooses to wear – the [opportunity] to seek the voice of the citizens… but we remain alert to make one [legal] changes are needed,” said Oikonomou.
The exclusion of a party from Greek elections would be a first since the restoration of democracy in 1974 after a military dictatorship.