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Greek Socialist leader warns of rise of far right

The leader of Greece’s Socialist Pasok party, Evangelos Venizelos, has warned voters that they should not allow the far right to “goose-step into Parliament with Hitler salutes” in elections this weekend.

golden dawn membersEnlarge
Members of the 'Golden Dawn' nationalist group hold a copy of the Greek sixth-grade history book before burning it, while protesting in Athens during the celebrations of the Greek Independence Day. (Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON, UK – The leader of Greece’s Socialist Pasok party, Evangelos Venizelos, has warned voters that they should not allow the far right to “goose-step into Parliament with Hitler salutes” in elections on May 6.

Venizelos was addressing a rally in Patras, ahead of Greece’s first polls since it sought European Union/International Monetary Fund bailouts and announced severe spending cuts, according to the BBC.

Polls suggest that the far-right Golden Dawn party may exploit rising anti-immigrant sentiment among austerity-hit Greeks and enter the parliament in Athens for the first time after Sunday’s vote, according to Bloomberg.

The party bills itself as a nationalist group and has won the support of many poor Greeks by giving away food parcels and clothes and attacking Greece’s international bailout.

But its logo resembles a disentangled swastika, its charter says that “only men and women of Greek descent and consciousness should have full political rights,” and its pledges include the expulsion of both legal and illegal immigrants.

More from GlobalPost: Anti-immigrant parties grow in Greece amid economic woes

In an interview with Reuters, Venizelos, whose Pasok party is trailing in second place to the center-right New Democracy party, said:

“Golden Dawn is an extreme phenomenon, I believe they are an example of fascism and we radically oppose them. It’s an offence to our history and to parliament.”

He went on to suggest that Greece might be experiencing its own version of Germany’s “Weimar” years, which saw the rise of Nazism under Adolf Hitler.

Opinion polls show that the New Democracy and Pasok parties are set to secure a combined tally of less than 50 percent of the vote at the weekend, which means the rest of the votes will be picked up by groups that oppose the EU/IMF international bailouts for Greece and the austerity measures those rescue packages have entailed. 

More from GlobalPost: Pro-bailout parties likely to form another coalition

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120430/greek-socialist-leader-warns-rise-far-right