The block in Kasidiaris’ party may be too little, and came too late, reports the British Guardian newspaper, in an extensive article.

For two years Elias Kasidiaris, convicted leader of the now dissolved neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, has been using social media to address his supporters from Domokos prison in central Greece.

Month after month, the former MP rails against the “corrupt political regime’s” inability to govern the country in a series of hate-filled speeches.

For his 134,000 YouTube subscribers, “the exhortations are a lifeline for Kasidiaris and the Greeks, the small nationalist party he founded shortly before he was sentenced to 13.5 years in prison for his role in Golden Dawn.” And they seem to be paying off.

Thirty months after the violent neo-fascist group was found to be a criminal gang masquerading as a political organization – targeting immigrants, killing Greek rapper Pavlos Fyssas and lashing out at the left – the allure of Kasidiaris, known for his irascible character, does not seem to have faded. fades away

“On the contrary, it seems to have strengthened,” says Kostis Papaioannou, who runs Signal, a research group that studies far-right extremism. “He was even allowed to do radio broadcasts from his cell and was very effective in using social media to rally support among the youth. It’s worrying. If general elections were held tomorrow, his party would probably cross the 3% threshold to enter parliament.”

On Wednesday, less than six weeks before Greece goes to the polls – and just hours after lawmakers voted to ban Greeks from running candidates – Domokos Prison’s disciplinary board convened in an emergency as it began looking into whether Kasidiaris, 42, had broken the rules. of the prison that allow him to have contact only with close relatives and lawyers – contacts that can only be made using a phone card. The council is expected to announce possible punitive measures on April 20.

More and more Greeks are questioning how a notorious inmate at a maximum-security prison that houses some of the country’s most hardened criminals could be in such flagrant breach of the penal code, posting videos on Twitter and even presiding over meetings of his party’s executives, even and by phone.

Kasidiaris’ actions, which first came to light two years ago, have caused considerable embarrassment to the centre-right government, according to the Guardian. In October 2021, as the revelations came to light, Sofia Nikolaou, the official who was then head of the anti-crime policy unit at the Ministry of Citizen Protection, not only called for an investigation but demanded that the guards be punished if found to be helping the prisoner.

In 2022, Nikolaou left her position, but the interventions of Kasidiaris “flourished”.

Tuesday’s vote to ban extremists from running in the 2023 election follows legislation passed in February that sought to make it impossible for Greeks to run, citing the criminal conviction of their leader.

The nationalists responded by announcing that a retired high court prosecutor would instead lead the party in the May 21 election.

The latest legislation, passed with the support of the ruling New Democracy party and the center-left PASOK, expanded the scope of the original ban, making even that impossible, although the country’s highest court will decide on May 5 whether the law should to enter into force. Opponents of the government have accused it of doing too little too late, ahead of an ever-closer election.

“(The government) should have acted immediately after the court’s verdict, when Golden Dawn and its leaders were found to be a criminal organization,” Papaioannou said. “But the government did not want to alienate Kasidiaris’ base. He has lost a lot of support especially among the right-wing in Northern Greece and he wanted to keep the channels open.”

In a nation where the Communist Party has long been outlawed, the ban has raised concerns about its constitutionality – the left-wing opposition abstained from Tuesday’s vote arguing it would set a dangerous precedent, and even work to the benefit of the unrepentant Kasidiaris.

With the once-rising New Democracy’s popularity battered by a train crash (s.p. Tempe) that has destroyed its narrative of effective governance – and with no party likely to win an outright majority – smaller groups have won support. On the right, Greeks have been particularly fueled by anti-establishment rage in the wake of a disaster that was thought to be avoidable.

Kasidiaris, the right-hand man of the self-proclaimed “Fuhrer” of Golden Dawn, Nikos Michaloliakos, led the extremist party’s notorious assassination squads and trained its members in martial arts.

If the high court refuses to uphold the ban on the ultranationalists from running in the elections, the group’s popularity could be further strengthened, warned Dimitris Mavros, head of polling firm MRB. “Right now we already measure (its support) between 4 and 4.5 percent,” he said, calling the Greeks’ party’s role potentially decisive in the upcoming elections.