Piraeus mayor accuses opponent of deal with Golden Dawn

Vasilis Michaloliakos says that Yannis Moralis and businessman backer Vangelis Marinakis agreed with far-right party to direct its supporters to vote Golden Dawn

The Piraeus mayoral race from the start raised eyebrows when Olympiakos vice president Yannis Moralis declared he will challenge the incumbent, who is now charging his opponent cut a deal with Golden Dawn to defeat him

Piraeus mayor and former deputy defence minister is taking up legal arms against his opponent's campaign tactics (File photo) Piraeus mayor and former deputy defence minister is taking up legal arms against his opponent's campaign tactics (File photo) The Piraeus mayoral race between incumbent mayor Vasilis Michaloliakos and the vice-chairman of the city's hugely popular Olympiakos football team, Yannis Moralis, had raised eyebrows from the start.

The sitting mayor and other critics charged that Moralis' candidacy is nothing more than a Greek version of Berlusconism, where a powerful shipowner and business magnate, Olympiakos owner Vangelis Marinakis, is using a huge campaign war chest to buy public office.

Pireaus is Greece's main port and a centrepiece of the government privatisation programme, where much of the port has been leased to the Chinese business giant Cosco.

In the first round of elections, both Michaloliakos and Syriza candidate Theodoros Dritsas charged that the Moralis campaign engaged in illegal electioneering, setting up pamphlet stands and even intimidating voters at many polling precincts.

Michaloliakos openly charges that Moralis is the puppet of Marinakis, who he says will in essence be the mayor if Moralis wins the election. Marinakis himself is a candidate for the Piraeus city council, on Moralis' ticket.

In one of his harshest attacks on his competitor yet, Michaloliakos today accused Marinakis and Moralis of making a secret deal with the neonazi party Golden Dawn to have supporters not vote for the far right party's own candidate, Nikos Kouzilos, but rather for Moralis.

"It is well known from opinion polls that Golden Dawn's polling numbers are uniformly high throughout the Attica area. How can they garner 16% of the vote in Athens and only 5% in Pireaus," Michaloliakos told Skai TV today.

He offered no concrete evidence to confirm his deduction.

In an apparent attempt to link his opponent with the widely discredited Pasok party, Michaloliakos described his opponent as "the child of a Pasok minister who was hired by Sokratis Kokkalis [business magnate and former Olympiakos owner]". "As the son of a minister, he ran twice in local elections and was defeated," the mayor said.

Locals say that many Golden Dawn members in Pireaus are hardcore Olympiakos football fans, active in the Thyra 7 (gate seven) area of the stadium, behind the goal post, where team fanatics and holigans dominate.

Some voters complained that security guard style muscle men were present at various polling stations.

In some cases, teams of black-shirt motorcyclists showed up at polling stations to intimidate supporters of Syriza candidate Theodoris Dritsas.

The tensions between the two camps has led police to beef up their presence in Piraeus, with a plethora of officers stationed around the candidates' electoral kiosks and the placement of police buses in various central locations.

A Pireaus lower court is now reviewing charges about the above incidents lodged by both Michaloliakos and Dritsas against the Moralis campaign.

In the most sensational incident, Marinakis and his security guards engaged in a tense exchange with Michaloliakos at a Kastella polling precinct. There, Moralis supporters were reportedly chanting slogans in favour of their candidate, when a heated argument broke out between the two camps. Marinakis and Michaloliakos arrived at the scene to defuse tensions.

The mayor charged that 20 black-clad men stormed into the polling station and hurled insults at candidates from his electoral ticket.

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