Greece’s Supreme Court of Civil and Penal Law (‘Αρειος Πάγος) decided to take radical measures against members of the Parliament caught in flagranti (to catch red-handed, in action) in committing felonies: Arrest! The circular sent to prosecutors and police departments does not namely refer to MPs of extreme-right Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) however the message is clear:
“Recently there has been observed the phenomenon of increasing attacks, use of violence and checks on foreign immigrants concerning the lawfulness of entrance, residence and their commecrial activities by organized groups of citizens. Many times members of the Parliament participate in these actions.” (Full text here via To Vima)
Supreme Court prosecutor Ioannis Tentes noted that if parliamentarians commit misdemeanour (like overthrowing stands etc), police should prevent them from doing so “by ordinary means”. When felonies are committed, judicial and police authorities are informed that the MPs should be arrested. (zougla, tovima)
Members of the Parliament enjoy immunity and a vote is needed for the immunity to be lifted.
The Supreme Court circular comes after the recent and multiple incidents where members of Chrysi Avgi under the leadership of elected MPs of the party attacked vendors in open markets, made check controls without being authorized to do so and even announced further similar actions.
Beginning of the month, Greece’s public opinion and the political world were shocked to see incidents full of violence and hate to pass before their eyes via their television screens, as GD always makes sure that these attacks are being filmed and broadcast through the media.
Scenes that had horrifying similarity to actions staged by “raid squads” against Jews in Nazi-Germany.
The Greek state was late in preventing or practically hindering such raids except for some verbal condemnation by the Minister of Citizen Protection and Justice.
In the following days, MPs of GD openly justified their actions and even
“sued Minister of Citizen Protection Nikos Dendias and chief of the Greek Police, Lt Gen Nikos Papagiannopoulos, for slander, “perversion of institutions”, and “suppressing legal public actions” with the Supreme Court prosecutor. Among the charges it makes against the minister is that he is harbouring criminals – namely, the unlicensed street vendors targeted by the party.” (Athens News)
Dendias announced radical measures against the GD, vowing to “crush” them.
Dendias: “I have already said it and I will say it again: We will not have storm troopers in this country.”
It was then a matter of time, that Justice and Citizen Protection join forces to set a cutback to GD’s challenging actions that in fact showed the shortages in implementation of laws, the lack of state presence and political will. Or even state weakness to deal with unexpected issues.
And yet, with a constant daily presence in the news (whether with distribution of food to Greek-only poor, blood donations for Greeks-only, raids and attacks against immigrants, or sharp criticism against the state as such or the political system) Golden Dawn seem to gain support among some parts of the Greek society.
In the most recent public opinion survey, Chrysi Avgi gains in support when compared to the other political parties, whether those participating in the government or those of the opposition.
“Which party can perform the best opposition? SYRIZA 32%, Independent Greeks 14% Chrysi Avgi 13%, KKE 10%.
Political party popularity: Democratic Left 48%, SYRIZA 42%, IndepGreeks 40%, Nea Dimocratia 38%, PASOK 23%, Chrysi Avgi 22%, KKE 19%. In comparison to May 2012, Chrysi Avgi recorded an increase of 10 units.” (skai.gr)
The survey was conducted by Public Issue between 6-11 September 2012 for SKAI TV and newspaper Kathimerini.