By Lefteris Yallouros – Athens
Greece’s ruling New Democracy party accused main opposition SYRIZA of trying to sway neo-Nazi Golden Dawn voters to opt for the left party in Sunday’s crucial double elections.
SYRIZA party leader Alexis Tsipras told SKAI television on Wednesday he did not believe the majority of Golden Dawn voters were neo-Nazis. “The fight against the dark ideology of fascism should become a clash with misled voters” Tsipras said.
SYRIZA should not be attacked for wanting to bring back Golden Dawn voters to the democratic path, the main opposition party leader maintained.
SYRIZA party officials and candidates in the double election battle – including spokesman Panos Skourletis and Gavriil Sakellaridis who is running for Athens mayor – also defended Greeks who have previously voted for Golden Dawn, maintaining that 16% pct of Greek voters cannot be considered neo-Nazis.
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou lashed out at the main opposition party Wednesday saying it was now clear that for the first time the left and neo-Nazis were in tandem. The spokesman cited a letter by a Golden Dawn candidate to SYRIZA candidate mayor G. Sakellaridis apparently suggesting a dialogue between the two sides.
SYRIZA flatly dismissed the attack as ludicrous, saying the government spokesman was reverting to Goebbels’ methods of propaganda.
However, many SYRIZA officials have publicly stated they would welcome votes gained from Golden Dawn. “We are not making overtures toward neo-Nazis. The 16% of the Athens electorate who voted for Golden Dawn are not neonazis,” Sakellaridis said. SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis said “every vote taken away from Nazism and Fascism is welcome. We all must agree with that (…) it is a positive thing for Democracy”.
Speaking in Crete on Wednesday, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras condemned “Nazi sympathizers,” adding that “the struggle for democracy and freedom never stops.”
Junior coalition party PASOK leader, Evangelos Venizelos joined in the debate Wednesday, lashing out at SYRIZA more directly, as he accused the party of pursuing a policy line that was “a populist, nationalist mishmash.”