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Imprisoned ex-Golden Dawn member announces Greek election candidacy

Imprisoned ex-Golden Dawn member announces Greek election candidacy.

Ilias Kasidiaris, sentenced in 2020 to 13 years in prison for his role in the banned far-right Golden Dawn party, has announced his participation as an independent parliamentary candidate in the June 25 elections.

Conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis pushed for a second election after failing to win an outright majority in legislative elections held on May 21.

Writing on his Twitter account, Kasidiaris said: “I will be an independent candidate in Athens with the coalition of Independent Candidates under the name Ellines [Greeks].”

Kasidiaris’s far-right Greeks National Party was excluded from the May 21 elections. The court decision was based on a new law that excludes parties whose leaders have been convicted of serious crimes from elections.

“The declaration of my candidacy,” said Kasidiaris, “will be based on the provisions of the electoral law and on the opinion of Nikos Alivizatos [Greek professor of constitutional law].”

“If Kasidiaris and his friends appear as a coalition of independents, not as a party, and collect more than 3 per cent of the votes (which is very likely now), they will be able to enter parliament … This is explicitly defined by paragraph 1 of article 99 of the electoral law,” he added

Commenting on Kasidiaris’ statements, Alivizatos told BIRN that he saw no real prospect of a “combination of independent candidates … It is, in fact, a political party. It is an obvious attempt to circumvent the prohibitive provisions of the recent law.”

Professor Xenophon Contiades, president of the Centre for European Constitutional Law – Themistocles and the Dimitris Tsatsos Foundation, told BIRN that he had warned before that the law amendment excluding Kasidiaris party would not cover coalitions of independent candidates, and had so opened a window for condemned Golden Dawn members to run again in elections.

“Today those fears are confirmed, as Kasidiaris has announced that he is running as a candidate with a coalition of independent candidates, even citing the relevant opinion of Professor Alivizatos,” he said.

“The participation of Kasidiaris in the elections [has…] multiple implications for the political system and poses new stakes in the June 25 elections. Let’s hope the voters don’t follow him,” he added.

From prison, where he remains active on social media, Kasidiaris initially threatened to question the legitimacy of the May elections.

In another post, after the elections, he said he would take his case to the Special Supreme Court so that his party could participate in the next election.

In May 2021, the then general secretary of Anti-Criminal Policy, Sofia Nikolaou, asked the prosecution to investigate Kasidiaris over his “remote communications” and for directing group gatherings.

According to the media, Kasidiaris had been referred to for disobedience.

But the disciplinary board of Kasidiaris’ prison on May 18 ruled that he did not break the law. He was found not guilty as “it did not appear that he violated the legal orders of the staff during the conversations in question,” the official document stated.