The exchange was a telling sign of how the hard-core group — better known for its violent tangles with immigrants in downtown Athens and for the Nazi salutes that some members perform at rallies — has been trying to broaden its appeal, capitalizing on fears that illegal immigration has grown out of control at a time when the economy is bleeding jobs.
But even if Golden Dawn fails to enter Parliament (3 percent vote threshold needed), it has already had an impact on the broader political debate. In response to the fears over immigration and rising crime, Greece’s two leading parties — the Socialist Party and the center-right New Democracy Party — have also tapped into nationalist sentiment and are tacking hard right in a campaign in which immigration has become as central as the economy.
Last week, Evangelos Venizelos, who is running in the national elections as Socialist Party leader, warned that “Parliament cannot become a place for those nostalgic for fascism and Nazism.”
Watch from MEGA (in Greek):