ATHENS, Greece—The spokesman for Greece’s extremist far-right Golden Dawn party caused an uproar Thursday after he physically assaulted two left-wing deputies on live television during a morning political show. A public prosecutor ordered his immediate arrest.
Tempers frayed on the political show on the private Antenna television station during a discussion of the country’s politics in the run-up to repeat elections on June 17. Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris took offense at a reference by radical left Syriza party member Rena Dorou over a court case that is pending against him.
Kasidiaris, 31, bounded out of his seat and hurled a glass of water across the table over Dorou when she said there was a “crisis of democracy when people who will take the country back 500 years have got into the Greek parliament.” He then turned on prominent Communist Party member Liana Kanelli, who had got up out of her chair with a newspaper in hand and appeared to throw it at the Golden Dawn member.
Talk show host Giorgos Papadakis ran over to Kasidiaris to attempt to calm him, shouting “no, no, no!”
But Kasidiaris, who had served in the Greek military’s special forces, hit Kanelli around the face three times, with right-left-right slaps to the sides of her head.
Kasidiaris was elected to Parliament in the country’s recent inconclusive polls. Deputies from all seven parties that won parliament seats in the May 6 polls had been invited on the show.
“The government condemns in the most categorical way the attack by Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris against Liana Kanelli and Rena Dourou,” government spokesman Dimitris Tsiodras said. “This attack is an attack against every democratic citizen.”
Tsiodras called on Golden Dawn to condemn its member’s actions.
Golden Dawn, which vehemently denies the neo-Nazi label, has been accused of being behind violent attacks against immigrants.
The party won nearly 7 percent of the vote on May 6, giving it 21 seats in the 300-member Parliament. It was a radical increase from its showing in the previous elections in 2009, when the party had won just 0.31 percent of the vote.
Greeks reeling from two years of austerity amid their country’s vicious financial crisis punished the two formerly main parties, the conservative New Democracy and socialist PASOK at the polls, turning instead to radical smaller parties to the right and left of the political spectrum.
The 300 deputies took up their seats for a day last month before parliament was dissolved and new elections called as no party had won enough votes to form a government on its own, and negotiations for a coalition government collapsed after 10 days.