George Karatzaferis, a Greek anti-Semite with connections to neo-Nazis, has capitalized on a crime wave and the recent fires in Greece to gain his party, Popular Orthodox Alarm (LA.O.S.), a number of seats in Parliament.
from Reuters: "Far-rightist could become king maker in Greek politics" By Dina Kyriakidou
ATHENS -- A party led by a former bodybuilder could become the first far-right group to enter Greece's parliament since the return of democracy in 1974.More here: Far-right party set to enter parliament and here: Greek centre-right wins majority in parliament and here: Greek Right Wing Could Profit From Fires.
The Popular Orthodox Alarm party of George Karatzaferis, who has pledged to stop illegal immigration of Albanians and has upset Jewish groups with his rhetoric, is expected to reach the three percent threshold in parliamentary elections on September 16.
With opinion polls also showing no party easily winning an outright majority, Karatzaferis could become a powerbroker in a poll seen as crucial for the pace of reform the European Union member nation needs to catch up with its euro zone partners.
Some analysts see similarities between Karatzaferis' LA.O.S. party and other European far-right groups.
"LA.O.S. has elements of other European far-right parties, such as nationalism and intolerance to immigrants," said Dimitis Sotiropoulos of the ELIAMEP think tank.
"But it also has some special characteristics. It is populist and personality-driven."
Karatzaferis, who has called on Greeks to unite against "the enemies" surrounding the nation in a reference to Albania, Macedonia and Turkey, bristles at any comparisons with French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.
He denies being a far-rightist, but in previous elections he has recruited members of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn group, which has been blamed for violent attacks against leftist groups and immigrants.
"We are against marginalization, xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism. This is clear," he told Reuters. "What we want is to set a limit. How many more can Greece take? And above all, they must come in legally, not jump over the fence."
Conservative Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis called a snap election last month to try to win a mandate to push through economic reforms. He hopes to secure a new term on the back of his government's economic record.
Karamanlis told a televised debate on Thursday he would not agree to a coalition if he failed to win enough votes to form a government, but some analysts said this could be a campaign tactic.
Political and financial scandals and the government's reaction to destructive forest fires that killed 65 people have pushed disillusioned voters towards smaller parties.
Many Greeks blame a rising crime wave partly on east European immigrants who fled after the collapse of communism. LA.O.S., which some polls say could win between 3.3 and 4.9 percent of votes, plays on such fears.
Karatzaferis, 60, has also spoken of an unspecified "international conspiracy" aimed at "destroying Greece." But the prospect of entering coalition negotiations after the election has tempered his rhetoric.
Once a fierce opponent of Turkey's bid to join the European Union, he now says Ankara can become a member if it meets pro-EU reforms and resolves the division of the Mediterranean island Cyprus, split into two separate Greek and Turkish communities.
Posters around Athens show Karatzaferis, a former deputy of the ruling conservative party who was expelled in 2000 for criticizing Karamanlis' aides, throwing a punch "against the establishment" with a red boxing glove.
Karatzaferis, who has worked as a journalist and radio producer, has upset the Central Bureau of Jewish Communities of Greece with his rhetoric.
"Repeatedly his newspaper has attacked Jews with very offensive comments," said Bureau president Moses Konstantinis. "There are two openly declared anti-Semites on his ticket."
According to the world-renowned wikipedia (grains of salt warning), here's some background on Karatzaferis:
He has referred to Jews as "God-murderers" (θεοκτόνους in Greek). He has asserted that "Hitler was a mere college-boy compared to the Jews". He has called for Greece to "reconquer" Istanbul, which he refers to as Constantinople, from Turkey within 5 years. He has promoted the myth that 4,000 either Jews or Israelis were warned to stay away from the World Trade Center on 9/11, and that, variously, no Jews or Israelis were killed at the World Trade Center. He has also claimed that 9/11 was planned and executed by Israel. He has defended Jean Marie le Pen, against the "Jewish pens that curse him. They are the same pens that curse and accuse us". In 2000, Karatzaferis claimed that the Protocols of Zion were being put into effect and that "the Pope and the Jews are conspiring against Greece". He has claimed at various times that 136 of Greece's 300 MPs are Freemasons, and that 100 MPs are "passive homosexuals with Albanian stallions". He is an ardent opponent of the so-called "New World Order", which is, he says, a plan to make Greece a puppet of the Jews. From wikipedia:
In 2001, Karatzaferis stated that "the Jews have no right to provoke, because they have filled the world with crimes". "The Jews have no legitimacy to speak in Greece and provoke the political world. Their impudence is crass". In the same tirade, Karatzaferis challenged the Israeli ambassador to come and debate "the Holocaust, the Auschwitz and Dahau myth" and claimed that "the whole world cannot be mad, as everybody throughout history has asked to throw the Jews out". Karatzaferis finished by asking "mister Jew ambassador" to "be a bit careful" and warning "the Jews" that if they continued their "insolent behaviour" they were "not going to have a pleasant time". The "insolent behaviour" in question was the Jewish community's response to Karatzaferis's earlier claims that "the Jews" were responsible for 9/11.
He is, in a word, nuts.