Arresting the bad guys in Greece

Probably most of you know by now that the Greek government has moved to arrest leading members of Golden Dawn, their neo-Nazi Party, including parliamentary members and leaders of the party.  These members seem to be bad people, even by the low standards of neo-Nazi parties worldwide.

Still, it is odd to arrest the leadership the leadership of an elected political party — even a bad one — all at the same time.  At least the typical foreign sources are not completely clear on the exact nature of the “criminal gang” charges (there is a slightly more detailed summary here, and here, see also @Yiannisbab, and one reads that the charges themselves have been leaked only in part to the press).  I understand full well that this is an attempt to preserve democracy for Greece, not an attempt to eliminate it, but still the resulting situation is rather awkward.  And what if some of the key players cannot be convicted?  What kind of new elections are required?  And until conviction, what kinds of political powers, and claims to political funds, do the defendants have?  As Gideon Rachman wrote: “Mass arrests of legitimately elected politicians should always spark unease.”

From this distance, it is difficult to judge whether the right thing has been done.  In any case, when you feel you have to arrest your neo-Nazi party to limit their influence, things have gone far indeed in a very bad direction.  Some sources indicate that fifty percent of the police voted for Golden Dawn.

Addendum: Interestingly, for all of their anti-immigrant stances, the Golden Dawn party seems to have used migrants to sell products illegally on black markets as a revenue raiser.

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