ATHENS—The spokesman of Greece’s ultranationalist Golden Dawn party struck a female member of parliament from a rival party on live television Thursday, shocking Greeks ahead of what is already a heated campaign ahead of the June 17 elections.
During a morning program on the privately-owned Antenna television channel, Ilias Kasidiaris, a parliamentarian and spokesman for Golden Dawn, threw a glass of water at Rena Dourou from the leftist Syriza party before striking Liana Kanelli from the Communist Party of Greece several times around the face. Shortly after the attack, Ms. Kanelli appeared on Antenna with bruises to her jaw and cheekbone area. An arrest warrant has been issued for Mr. Kasidiaris.
It isn’t the first time that a member of Golden Dawn, which has been known for attacks on immigrants and hazings of elected officials, has been involved in violent confrontations. However, it is the first time that Greece’s normally heated television debates have been marred by a scuffle between elected members of parliament.
Ms. Kanelli threw a newspaper at Mr. Kasidiaris before being struck and responded by shoving him back.
In a separate incident Thursday, several members of the socialist Pasok party said they were verbally attacked by members of Golden Dawn while campaigning in the northern Greek city of Serres. There were no reports of arrests.
But the incident on live television drew a strong and immediate response by Greeks on the blogosphere with the majority describing the attack as cowardly and brutal—although a not-insignificant number of Greeks also backed Mr. Kasidiaris and cheered him on.
Many saw it as a natural, albeit excessive, extension of the widespread public anger against the country’s established political parties—including even the opposition Communists—whom Greeks blame for leading the country into its current crisis.
Facing an increasingly uncertain future in the euro zone, many ordinary Greeks are suffering from the effects of a five-year long recession, record high unemployment, soaring crime rates and severe cutbacks in wages, pensions and healthcare spending.
Fresh data Thursday showed Greece’s jobless rate rising to a new record in March, and with the proportion of young people without jobs now topping 50%. Data from Elstat, the country’s statistics agency, showed that the number of jobless climbed to 1.08 million, or 21.9% of the work force, up from a revised 21.4% rate in February.
In a statement, Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tsiodras condemned the assault, describing it as an attack on the country’s democratic process, a view echoed by all Greek parties from across the political spectrum.
Pasok said that it will no longer take part in debates with Golden Dawn members. In a separate statement, Golden Dawn said it was boycotting all media, whom it accuses of bias.
This information come from Wall Street Journal