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Greek Neo-Nazi MP Assaults Leftist Rivals on Live Television

- Common Dreams staff

Today, Ilias Kasidiaris, a spokesman for the far-right Golden Dawn party in Greece, assaulted two separate members of leftist opposition parties during a panel discussion on live television.

A public prosecutor ordered the man's immediate arrest after Thursday’s incident.

The 31-year-old Kasidiaris, according to The Guardian's Helena Smith, was elected to the 300-seat Athens parliament last month and "is the most vocal opponent of suggestions that [Golden Dawn] is a violent organisation with a history of attacks on society's most vulnerable" including "Greece's burgeoning population of immigrants."

A former member of Greek military's special forces, reports Al-Jazeera, Kasidiaris hit communist party member Liana Kanelli in the face three times, "with right-left-right slaps to the sides of her head." This was after he threw a glass of water on a member of the leftwing Syriza party, Rena Dorou after she declared that his party would "take [Greece] back 500 years."

Video:

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The Guardian: Greek Golden Dawn MP assaults female politicians on TV talkshow

Greece's pre-electoral climate has become more explosive after a high-profile neo-Nazi MP assaulted two female politicians from leftwing parties on live TV. The brawl, a first in the nearly 40 years since democracy was returned to its birthplace, broke out during a morning talkshow when Ilias Kasidiaris, the spokesman of the far-right Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) took umbrage at deputy Rena Dourou declaring that his party "will take the country back 500 years".

After leaping from his seat and throwing a glass of water at Dourou, a deputy with the radical Syriza party, Kasidiaris then turned on Liana Kanelli, an MP with the KKE communist party, who, waving a piece of paper, stood up to condemn the action.

As the cameras rolled, the cropped-haired Kasidiaris, a weightlifting enthusiast, who had served in the Greek military's special forces, is shown lashing out at Kanelli slapping her around the face three times as she threw up her arms in self-defence. Shouting :"No, no, no," the talkshow's presenter, Giorgos Papadakis, then tried to intervene but within moments other guests present said the MP had fled the studio.

The extraordinary footage quickly prompted state prosecutor Eleni Raikou to order the immediate arrest of Kasidiaris. The 31-year-old, who was elected to the 300-seat Athens parliament in the country's inconclusive election last month, is the most vocal opponent of suggestions that Chrysi Avgi is a violent organisation with a history of attacks on society's most vulnerable not least Greece's burgeoning population of immigrants.

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Al-Jazeera: Radical increase

The public reaction to the attack was strong.

"The people voted for them because they didn't know what Golden Dawn was. They didn't know they're a new form of neo-Nazis," one woman in central Athens said.

One man hailed the incident as an example of a failing democracy.

"What I saw this morning is a derailment of democracy. It shows our people how democracy works in our country. There is no democracy," local resident Giorgos Theofanis said.

Golden Dawn won nearly seven 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 per cent 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.

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