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Over the past day or so there have been developments in both Greece and Italy which could lead to new general elections in both countries. In Greece MPs and the leader of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party have been arrested. In Italy, Berlusoni's threat to withdraw from the coalition if he is jailed has led to him announcing the resignation of five ministers from the government.

More below the orange Gordian Knot. Note for those with slow connections, this includes several images.

In Greece

The Leader of Golden Dawn, Nikolaos Michaloliakos; four other GD MPs; a local party leader in Athens and 12 others have been formally charged with belonging to a criminal organisation. This follows the death of GD's first Greek national murder victim on September 18 although the GD stormtroopers have been implicated in the death of 4 immigrants and at least 280 racist attacks.

Just three years ago, Golden Dawn was an obscure group, marginalized by most Greeks as neo-Nazi thugs, and it received just 0.23 percent of the vote in 2009 parliamentary elections.

But after the debt crisis destroyed faith in mainstream politicians, the group rebranded itself as corruption-fighting patriots and blamed the country's problems on undocumented migrants and politicians who work for "Jewish bankers." In elections last year, the party won 7 percent of the vote and 18 seats in the 300-member parliament.

Golden Dawn supporters have long been suspected of carrying out violent attacks against immigrants, especially those of South Asian and African descent. In a recent report, the Greek Ombudsman noted at least 281 racist attacks in the country — including four murders — between January 2012 and April 2013.

I make no apology for the terms I have used about this group. The "Greek Key" emblem is all to reminiscent of 1930s Fascism as can be seen from this picture of Michaloliakos.
The party rallies are also chilling.
Quite how dangerous this "party" is can be seen from their modern day blackshirts.
Very violent demonstrations about these arrests can be expected. Already TV reporters have been roughed up by the group demonstrating opposite the main police station. Michaloliakos threatened last week:
We will exhaust any means within our legal constitutional rights to defend our political honour. If the country enters a cycle of instability, it is those who demonise Golden Dawn who will be responsible.
Fortunately the crackdown would seem to have the support of the vast majority of Greeks. The recent violence and the anger at a Greek national being killed, even among those sanguine about the earlier deaths, appears to have eroded their electoral support.

The Greek constitution forbids the banning of political parties, which is why they have been charged with organizing a criminal organization. The Prime Minister has announced that he does not intend to hold a general election however the 15 GD MPs could choose to resign en masse or individually to provoke a series of by-elections which could become the focus of violent protests.

In Italy

A new general election is a lot closer. The background to this is the conviction of the leader of the revived Forza Italia on tax evasion charges.

The party of Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says all five of its ministers are resigning from the shaky coalition government. The development follows weeks of worsening relations between his party and Prime Minister Enrico Letta's centre-left grouping. Mr Berlusconi had already threatened to withdraw his ministers if he is expelled from the Senate for tax fraud.

The crisis could lead to fresh elections amid economic problems.Mr Letta flew back from New York on Friday in an attempt to prevent the government from collapsing.

The prime minister said late on Friday that he would quit unless his government won a confidence vote due next week in parliament.In a statement, Mr Berlusconi described that ultimatum as "unacceptable".

Letta will attempt to form a new coalition however if that does not succeed without Berlusconi or his allied parties, new elections would be held.

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