Greek opposition parties on Monday slammed outgoing health minister and New Democracy candidate Makis Voridis after he said his party would do “whatever it takes” to prevent Syriza from winning the general elections on Sunday.
Speaking at a small gathering in Aspropyrgos on Sunday, Voridis made reference to the 1946-49 Greek Civil War, fought by pro-government and pro-royalist forces against Communist rebels, in his opening remarks.
“Our generation will not hand over the country,” he said. “We will do whatever it takes. We will defend with our votes on Sunday what our grandfathers defended bravely with arms.”
Voridis, who joined New Democracy in 2012 after leaving nationalist LAOS, went on to give his interpretation of the key issue at stake on January 25.
“The meaning of the confrontation next Sunday, the meaning of the elections – don’t kid yourselves: You’re not choosing a party or an economic programme. Next Sunday is a major ideological clash. It is a clash between two worlds. The clash is between the values of the homeland, religion and family, which we represent, and levelling everything, which the Left represents.”
Syriza spokesman Panos Skourletis accused Voridis of making “intolerant, civil-war statements that have no precedent in the post-junta era,” and called on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to explain himself.
Skourletis said the health minister showed “the real face of Samaras’ party saying he will do ‘whatever it takes’ not to respect the vote of the Greek people” while adopting “slogans from the seven-year Junta.”
The Democratic Left (DIMAR) also criticised Voridis for “trying to return political life to times that Greeks would prefer to forget” and added that “democracy and the popular verdict cannot be threatened or blackmailed.”
Whatever it takes?
As a law student Voridis is reported to have formed a fascist group and taken part in street brawls, pursuing and attacking leftist groups. Photos from this period appear to show an axe-wielding Voridis patrolling the streets. Following his graduation he was appointed leader of the youth wing of EPEN – a far-right party founded a year earlier by the jailed leader of the 1967 military coup, Giorgos Papadopoulos – succeeding Nikos Michaloliakos who went on to found the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn which he leads to this day.
In 1994, age 30, he founded the far-right ‘Hellenic Front’ party inspired in part by the political activity of France’s Jean Marie Le Pen with whom Voridis established close ties. The French ultra-nationalist and anti-semite travelled to Greece several times on Voridis’s invitation. Voridis has also participated in National Front rallies in France.
Voridis launched several unsuccessful election campaigns with Hellenic Front campaigning together with Kostas Plevris author of several books including the lengthy Jews: the Whole Truth which portrays the Jewish people as natural enemies of the Greeks. In 2005 Hellenic Front then merged with the far-right wing LAOS party led by George Karatzaferis who has a history of xenophobic and anti-semitic comments. In 2007 Voridis was elected an MP with LAOS.
When LAOS pulled out of the coalition government in 2012, Makis Voridis, together with Adonis Georgiadis (who Voridis replaced as Health Minister) moved to the New Democracy party led by Antonis Samaras.
A changed man
In an interview with the Guardian, published 16/12/2011 Voridis said: “I was a rightwing student activist and, yes, it’s true that when I was the head of the Epen youth I had ties with Le Pen who we brought to Greece and, yes, I agreed, not with all but with some of his views.
“But am I a crypto-fascist, with a hidden agenda who wants to abolish democracy and human rights? The answer is no. And do I have a problem with Jews and homosexuals? No, I don’t. I’m terribly OK [about that]. Sexuality for sure is a personal choice,” insisted the politician.
Enikos.gr, The Press Project, The Guardian, The world Post