A LAOSy Dimension to Greek Government

From Ekathimerini:

In a bid to ease a crisis that brought Greece closer to a default and a eurozone exit, leaders of the PASOK socialists, New Democracy conservatives, and ultranationalist LAOS party last week agreed on an interim administration under technocrat economist Lucas Papademos. Since its establishment in 2000, LAOS has campaigned on an anti-immigrant, nationalist platform.

…LAOS, which garnered less than 6 percent of the vote in the 2009 general elections, is over-represented in the 48-member Cabinet with one minister, one alternate and two deputy ministers.

…The past of LAOS’s Makis Voridis, the new minister for infrastructure, transport and networks, is… a political minefield. In the early 1980s he led the EPEN (National Political Union) youth group that was founded by ex-dictator Georgios Papadopoulos from inside Korydallos Prison. Five years later, Voridis was kicked out of the law school student union for engaging in extremist acts. In an infamous picture taken at the time, he is seen wielding a hand-made ax (he later said it was for self-defense).

In the mid-1990s, Voridis established the Hellenic Front (Elliniko Metopo), a nationalist party with close ties to Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front in France. In 2005, Hellenic Front merged with LAOS and Voridis was elected to Parliament two years later.

I blogged on LAOS and its leader Giorgos Karatzeferis back in 2005 – the LAOS acronym stands for  “Laikos Orthodoxos Synagermos”, and can be translated in various ways (here’s a few: “The People’s Orthodox Rally”, “The Populist Orthodox Rally”, “The People’s Orthodox Alarm”, “The Popular Orthodox Herald Party”).

Mark Ames has further details at Naked Capitalism:

…In 1994, Voridis helped found a new far-right party, The Hellenic Front. In 2004’s elections, Voridis’s “Hellenic Front Party” formed a bloc with the neo-Nazi “Front Party,” headed by Greece’s most notorious Holocaust denier, Konstantinos Plevis, a former fascist terrorist whose book, “Jews: The Whole Truth,” praised Adolph Hitler and called for the extermination of Jews. Plevis was charged and found guilty of “inciting racial hatred” in 2007, but his sentence was overturned on appeal in 2009.

By that time, Makis “Hammer” Voridis had traded up in the world of Greek fascism, merging his Hellenic Front Party into the far-right LAOS party, an umbrella party for all sorts of neo-Nazi and far-right political organizations. LAOS was founded by another raving anti-Semite, Giorgos Karatzeferis—nicknamed “KaratzaFührer” in Greece for alleging that the Holocaust and Auschwitz are Jewish “myths,” and saying that Jews have “no legitimacy to speak in Greece.” The Anti-Defamation League is going ballistic about it; for some reason, the media hasn’t taken notice, except in Israel.

As well as formerly promoting Holocaust denial, Karatzeferis has called for the banning of religiously-offensive art. In 2003 he objected to Asperges Me, a painting which showed an erect penis next to a crucifix dripping with semen; Karatzeferis’ complaint included the detail that “the penis, that thing, looked circumcised”.

According to YNet, Karatzeferis is now moderating his rhetoric:

His conciliatory words may be connected to a secret telegram sent by the American embassy in Athens. Following LAOS’ great success in the Greek general elections in 2009 (it won close to six percent of the votes), US embassy officials wrote that Karatzaferis realizes that in light of his party’s growing influence, it is essential that it distance itself from ultra-nationalist positions and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

The telegram was made public by the WikiLeaks website.

According to a LAOS party member who briefed the US embassy staffers, Karatzaferis instructed the party’s leaders to soften their anti-Semitic comments so Washington would not object to the party’s inclusion in a future Greek government.

(H/T World War 4 Report)

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