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Λαϊκός Ορθόδοξος Συναγερμός
Laïkós Orthódoxos Synagermós
Popular Orthodox Rally
Leader Georgios Karatzaferis
Founded 14 September 2000
Headquarters 1, Eratosthenous & Vas. Konstantinou
116 35 Athens
Ideology National conservatism,
Christian democracy,
Right-wing populism[1],
Euroscepticism,
Social conservatism,
Greek nationalism[2]
Political position Right-wing
European affiliation AIDE (disbanded in 2008)
European Parliament Group IND/DEM (before 2009)
Europe of Freedom and Democracy (from 2009 on)
Official colours Dark blue
Website
www.laos.gr (in Greek)
Politics of Greece
Political parties
Elections

The Popular Orthodox Rally or The People's Orthodox Rally (Greek: Λαϊκός Ορθόδοξος Συναγερμός, Laïkós Orthódoxos Synagermós), often abbreviated to ΛΑ.Ο.Σ. (LA.O.S.) as a pun on the Greek word for people, is a Greek right-wing populist and Christian nationalist[3] political party, founded and led by journalist Georgios Karatzaferis. Karatzaferis formed LAOS in 2000, a few months after he was expelled from the centre-right New Democracy.

In 2004, LAOS secured support from the Party of Hellenism and the Hellenic Women's Political Party. In 2005 LAOS absorbed the nationalist Hellenic Front[4].

The youth branch of LAOS is the Youth of the Orthodox Rally (NEOS). The "Popular Orthodox Rally" is a member of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group in the European Parliament and was a member of the european political party Alliance of Independent Democrats in Europe (until end of 2008, when it was desolved).

The party failed to reach the 3% threshold of the popular vote in the 2004 elections, with 2.2%; three months later it gained 4.12% of the vote and one seat in the 2004 European Parliamentary Elections. LAOS received 3.8% of the vote in the 2007 elections, electing 10 members of parliament. In 2009 LAOS managed to elect two representatives in the European Parliament, receiving 7.14% of the vote.

Contents

Ideology

According to the Popular Orthodox Rally, "the demarcation of the political world in the Right Wing and the Left Wing is not relevant anymore after the end of the Cold War. Nowadays, everyone in every aspect of his or her everyday life is either in favour or against Globalization". The party claims to consist of radically diverse groups that span the entire Left-Right political spectrum. Party president Karatzaferis, speaking on the 6th anniversary of the party's creation, stated "We are united in the only party that has in its ranks labourers and scientists, workers and the unemployed, leftists and rightists".[5]

Karatzaferis has described Popular Orthodox Rally as "a profoundly democratic party", consisting of everything from a "pre-dictatorship Right" to a merger of Left and Right to a "Popular Liberalism" in official party literature. He has also stated that he supports "patriotism and social solidarity, taking from all ideologies and personalities I like. I don't care if it's called communism, liberalism or socialism."[6]

However, the Popular Orthodox Rally is often characterized as "far-right" [7][8][9][10][11], "populist", "radical right",[12] "right-wing"[13][14] and "nationalist". It has also been argued that its founding declaration (now withdrawn from the web) included antidemocratic, anti-parliamentary ideas, and the proposal that decisions should be taken by a council, which would include military officers and Church officials.[15] The Popular Orthodox Rally began as a party with an Orthodox Christian religious identity, but also one with a radically nationalist political identity. Although it has since allegedly tried to 'moderate' the nationalist part of its appeal, with some of an extreme-nationalist or neo-fascist bent, such as Konstantinos Plevris, then leaving the party to join Patriotic Alliance or other fringe political organizations, more extreme-nationalists have recently once again joined its ranks and been elected to parliament. Of the ten Popular Orthodox Rally candidates who entered the parliament in 2007, four are considered to be part of the "nationalist bloc", Makis Voridis, Thanos Plevris, Adonis Georgiadis, and Kiriakos Velopoulos.[16]

Platform

The main points of the Popular Orthodox Rally platform are as follows:[17]

Controversy

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Alleged Anti-Semitist statements

The now MP, Adonis Georgiades, has been accused of marketing a controversial book by far-right author and Supreme Court lawyer Konstantinos Plevris entitled "Jews: The Whole Truth" on his program on Teleasty. The author of the book denied the holocaust and called Jewish people "mortal enemies" and "subhuman.[18] Georgiades has countered the accusations against him by saying that he sells books like any other Greek bookstore, saying that he disagrees with the content of the book and that he has not mentioned their title or controversial content in his program.[19]

According to the leftwing Ios Press, in 2001 Karatzaferis had challenged the Israeli ambassador in Greece to come and discuss the "Auschwitz and Dachau myth" with him[20]. He had also stated that the Protocols of Zion are being put into effect,[21] claimed that "the Jews are conspiring against Greece" and suggested that "the Jews" were responsible for the 11 September, 2001 attacks.[22]

Karatzaferis has recognized the killing of six million Jews by Nazi Germany[23] and has signed a motion for a resolution against anti-Semitism and racism.[24]. According to official party literature which Karatzaferis read before a press conference in 2007, the party "objects to every type of social marginalization, to every phenomenon of racism, intolerance, and anti-semitism and fully respects all nations and religions"[25]. During the same press conference Karatzaferis stated that he had received an invitation from the World Jewish Council to one of their events but, as the event was eventually cancelled, he was not able to attend.

Jewish candidate Mihail Gkiolman ran on the party's ticket in both the Greek local elections, 2006 and the Greek legislative election, 2007.[26]

Position on homosexuality

According to Ios Press, Karatzaferis had related through his television broadcast in 2002 his conviction that "1/3 of Greek congressmen are passive homosexuals with Albanian Stallions."[27] Later on, Popular Orthodox Rally saw criticism both internally and from its voters over an apparent reversal of its stance with regards to homosexuality. Along with voting for the "European Parliament resolution on homophobia in Europe," Karatzaferis has himself met with homosexual activists and given interviews to homosexual magazines in which he said that "two adults should be able to freely live together and their relationship include certain legal recognition" and that "homophobia must be fought"[28]

Karatzaferis has claimed that the only internal disagreement came from the leftist Efthimios Droulias, though it is believed that such positions are partly responsible for the exodus of nationalists and conservatives from the party. Another controversy erupted when singer, trash TV star and LAOS candidate Efi Sarri stated "I want all the young sexy girls and boys, foreigners, and homosexuals with me. Specifically for my gay friends, I will try to guarantee safeguards of their property, when one of the two dies, through the achievement of civil marriages or some contract". According to sources with Eleftheros Kosmos, the telephone centers of Teleasty and LAOS were flooded with thousands of indignant callers.[29]

During the 2007 elections, Vaitsis Apostolatos, a sex-therapist and TV personality who has repeatedly expressed his tolerance and open-mindedness vis-a-vis homosexuality was elected as a LAOS MP for Piraeus.

LAOS continues to support a “legal recognition” for homosexual couples but not in the form of “marriage”[citation needed]. When the mayor of the Greek island of Tilos presided over the first homosexual civil marriages the party released a statement deploring "the cruel reality that we are living in the society of "homos" and stated that the way things were going “the next step is the prohibition of heterosexual marriage for being racist and a tool for the subjugation of one sex to the other".[30]

Extended arm salute

During the LAOS party convention of 2006 in Thessaloniki, presided by Georgios Karatzaferis, a participant gave an extended arm salute (the Roman salute) while the national anthem was being played, in presence of the full assembly at the closure of the conference. This motion, videotaped by a television station, predictably caused a stir in Greek public discourse and the media. Some have made light of the fact that neither Karatzaferis nor any of the other participants in LAOS's convention "displayed the slightest reaction" at the gesture. No other of the 2,500 individuals present at the convention gave such a salute.

Later on, Karatzaferis claimed that he had not seen the Roman salute, and accused rival parties (specifically, New Democracy) of "planting" the person in order to discredit his party. Given that registration was open to the general public there is no conclusive evidence that the individual in question was a member or even supporter of the party.

Although some political analysts have maintained that there is "no Nazi or fascist culture here, so it is not in the mould of Jean-Marie Le Pen's party, but more populist in character", they charatacterize the party as "extreme-right", racist, xenophobic and ethnocentric. The party's president, moreover, has defended Le Pen "against the "Jewish pens that curse him", claiming that "they are the same pens that curse and accuse us"[31] Recently, certain party members have publicly denounced fascism. Makis Voridis has stated that Fascism and Nazism are responsible for "wantom and monstrous crimes against humanity".[32]

Popular support

Results since 2004
(year links to election page)
Year Type of Election Votes % Mandates
2004
Parliament
162,103
2.20%
0
2004
European Parliament
252,429
4.12%
1
2007
Parliament
271,764
3.80%
10
2009
European Parliament
366,615
7.15%
2
2009
Parliament
386,152
5.63%
15

Representation

LA.O.S members in the European Parliament

LA.O.S members in the Hellenic Parliament

  • Alexandros Hrisanthakopoulos
  • Ioannis Korantis
  • Pavlos Markakis
  • Thanos Plevris
  • Aggelos Kolokotronis

Notes

  1. ^ http://www.parties-and-elections.de/greece.html
  2. ^ http://www.parties-and-elections.de/greece.html
  3. ^ See, Gemenis, Kostas (2008) 'The 2007 Parliamentary Election in Greece,' Mediterranean Politics 13: 95-101 and Gemenis, Kostas and Elias Dinas, (2009) 'Confrontation still? Examining parties' policy positions in Greece,' Comparative European Politics
  4. ^ Decision of Hellenic Front, 15 May 2005
  5. ^ Georgios Karatzaferis, "6 Years Popular Orthodox Rally", 14 September 2006
  6. ^ ND's nemesis is named Karatzaferis, 1 June 2007
  7. ^ ‘French-Greek axis’ with the same extreme views, 4 January 2006
  8. ^ September 18 2007, The Guardian
  9. ^ September 18 2007, The Age quoting Los Angeles Times, Reuters
  10. ^ September 17 2007, New York Times
  11. ^ September 16 2007, Washington Post
  12. ^ See Gemenis (2008) as above, Gemenis and Dinas (2009) as above, Cas Mudde (2007), Populist radical right parties in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  13. ^ "First term judged by second," 10 August 2007
  14. ^ "Wall of flame threatens to engulf birthplace of the Olympic Games," 27 August 2007
  15. ^ "The hidden 'Orthodoxy' of LAOS", 14 June 2007
  16. ^ With Α Hard Group of Five on National Issues, 18 September 2007
  17. ^ LAOS Program, August 2007
  18. ^ U.S. State Department Human Rights Report 2008
  19. ^ LAOS and the Nazism of Mr. Plevris (Ios Press, in Greek)
  20. ^ Ios Press - "The Karatzaferis Plan"
  21. ^ Eleftherotypia - "George Karatzaferis, His Struggle!," 20 October 2002
  22. ^ anti-Semitism and Racism" 29 December 2008
  23. ^ European Parliament debate (Tuesday, 13 December 2005 - Strasbourg)
  24. ^ European Parliament resolution on anti-Semitism and racism
  25. ^ Karatzaferis' Response Regarding K. Plevris and Anti-Jewish Sentiments, Antenna
  26. ^ "The Candidates of Popular Orthodox Rally in All of Greece," 28 August 2007
  27. ^ Ios Press - "The Karatzaferis Plan"
  28. ^ Press Release: The President of LAOS Mr. G. Karatzaferis accepted the presiding chairs of Greek homosexuals, 22 April 2005
  29. ^ Eleftheros Kosmos - "Efi Sarri Divides LAOS", 31 August 2007
  30. ^ Eleftheros Tipos, 3 June 2008
  31. ^ "Far-right movement gathers strength as Greek election nears". Guardian. 2007-09-13. http://www.guardian.co.uk/farright/story/0,,2167883,00.html. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  32. ^ Makis Voridis, Those Who Call Us Fascists are Abusive and Calumnious, 5 March 2006

See also

External links


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