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Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn holds steady in Greek elections

Party remains third-largest in country, as far-left faction comes out on top

A supporter of the Greek ultra-nationalist party Golden Dawn raises his fist during a preelection rally in Athens on May 23, 2014. (AFP/Aris Messinis)
A supporter of the Greek ultra-nationalist party Golden Dawn raises his fist during a preelection rally in Athens on May 23, 2014. (AFP/Aris Messinis)

ATHENS, Greece — The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party remained the third-largest party in Greece following elections.

In Sunday’s balloting, Golden Dawn received 6.3 percent of the vote, giving it 17 seats in the 300-member national parliament. Nearly all of the votes had been counted.

The far-left Syriza party fell one seat short of a majority needed to govern alone as Greeks embraced its promise to end six years of economic austerity. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ center-right New Democracy Party finished second with 27.9 percent of the vote.

Golden Dawn was only slightly below the 6.9 percent of the vote and 18 seats it won in the 2012 election despite a widespread crackdown in the past year that saw most of the party’s top leadership jailed on charges of heading a violent criminal organization.

The party, which frequently uses Nazi imagery, has been accused of being behind dozens of racist attacks on immigrants. Its leaders have denied the existence of Nazi death camps and gas chambers.

Attempting to crack down on Golden Dawn, Greek lawmakers recently passed a law with harsher penalties for inciting racial violence and denying the Holocaust, but it cannot be applied retroactively. It was not clear whether the newly elected government would continue the crackdown on Golden Dawn.

The American Jewish Committee on Monday called on newly elected Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras to continue the hard line against Golden Dawn and expressed dismay at the party’s showing.

“We look to the Syriza-led government to continue the measures implemented during the past years, and assure all minority communities, who are an integral part of Greece, that they will continue to be fully protected and respected, and that there will be no place for anti-Semitism in mainstream Greek society,” AJC Executive Director David Harris said.

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