Far-Right Politician in Greece Slaps Rival on TV
By NIKI KITSANTONIS / NEW YORK TIMES
ATHENS — Politics has been a rough-and-tumble affair here this year, but mostly in a metaphorical sense until Thursday, when a male legislator from an ultraright political party attacked two rival legislators on a live television talk show, both of them women, throwing water in the face of one and slapping the other in the face repeatedly.
The intemperate outburst came just over a week before general elections that could determine Greece’s future in the euro zone, shifting the debate at least for the moment from commitments to foreign creditors and financial woes to the legislator, Ilias Kasidiaris, and the party for which he was the chief spokesman, Golden Dawn. A prosecutor issued a warrant for Mr. Kasidiaris’s arrest on charges of attempting to inflict bodily harm.
The assault dominated Greek news sites and blogs. Though most commentators played down its possible impact on the outcome of elections on June 17, they agreed that Greece’s international image would suffer.
“It’s another nail in the coffin” for Greece, said Babis Papadimitriou, a political commentator for the television channel Skai and a center-right daily newspaper, Kathimerini. Politically, he said, the impact will probably be slight. “Most of the people that voted for Golden Dawn know what the party is about, and they sent them to Parliament knowing that, to empower them to do what they can’t do.”
The outburst was a first for Greek television, which apparently does not carry “The Jerry Springer Show.” Mr. Kasidiaris, who has served in the Greek military’s special forces, emptied his glass of water in the face of Rena Dourou, of the ascendant leftist party Syriza, before turning on an outspoken Communist Party candidate, Liana Kanelli, who had risen from her seat.
Mr. Kasidiaris snapped after an argument with Ms. Kanelli over accusations about links between Golden Dawn and members of the Greek police force, and Ms. Dourou’s reference to a pending court case against him in the beating of a left-wing student in 2007.
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