Parliament’s ethics committee calls for censure of Golden Dawn leader and two MPs

The Special Permanent Committee on Parliamentary Ethics on Monday recommended that a censure motion for unparliamentary conduct be brought against the leader of the far-right Golden Dawn party Nikos Michaloliakos and the party’s MPs Ilias Kasidiaris and Panagiotis Iliopoulos.

Michaloliakos and the two MPs were summoned before the committee on Monday in relation to their abusive verbal attacks targeting minority MPs in parliament but none of the three attended. This was the first time that a political party leader was summoned to appear before the Greek parliament’s ethics committee.

A censure for unparliamentary conduct is a process initiated for exceptionally serious cases outlined in parliamentary regulations. A final decision will be made by the parliament plenum on Monday, March 19, at which time the MPs targeted for censure will be given an opportunity to explain their actions.

During Monday’s session of the ethics committee, Kasidiaris and Iliopoulos sent written memorandums instead of attending, while Michaloliakos neither attended nor sent any memorandum.

Michaloliakos was summoned after he urged MPs from Greek minority communities to “declare what their country is” during a session of the plenum and for fully backing his MPs’ verbal attacks on SYRIZA minority MP Moustafa Moustafa.

Referring Michaloliakos and the other two Golden Dawn MPs, Parliament President Nikos Voutsis noted that their attacks, in addition to being unprecedented in the Greek Parliament, appeared to be more than isolated incidents but formed a “repeated, deliberate behaviour with the full backing of the president and other members of the specific parliamentary group”.

Parliamentary rules envision disciplinary measures against any MP that violates parliament’s code of conduct or behaves inappropriately during parliament meetings and discussions. These sanctions may include being called to order, deprived of the right to address the house, a motion of censure for unparliamentary conduct and temporary exclusion from sessions. In the case of a censure motion supported by the parliamentary majority, this can lead to docking an MP’s salary.

In addition to the parliamentary rules, meanwhile, the penal code envisages stiff penalties for those found guilty of promoting hate speech.