The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party ousted one of its members of parliament on Friday after he called for a military coup against Greece’s government.
Golden Dawn MP Konstantinos Barbarousis gave an incendiary speech, urging the army to arrest Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and top government members, accusing them of “treason.”
Barbarousis’ outburst came as the country’s parliament moved forward with a no-confidence vote against Tsirpas’ Syriza-led government, following a controversial deal to end a longstanding dispute with neighboring Macedonia.
Greek politicians immediately condemned Barbarousis for inciting violence, while Speaker of Parliament Nikos Voutsis temporarily banned all Golden Dawn members from parliamentary proceedings. Greek media reported that authorities launched a treason investigation against the lawmaker.
The incident on Friday marked the high point in a heated debate over a proposed agreement between Greece and Macedonia that would see the latter change its name to North Macedonia. Greece has long argued that the name Macedonia appropriates Greek history and culture, as well as implies hostile territorial claims over its northern region.
The Greek and Macedonian governments struck a tentative deal this month to end the disagreement, but critics have protested the change as too lenient. Nationalists often brand politicians who use Macedonia’s current name or advocate for some diplomatic concessions as traitors, and now they viciously oppose the deal.
Over 100,000 demonstrators marched through Athens in February, chanting “Macedonia belongs to Greece” and demanding the government not compromise on the name. Meanwhile, the dispute has energized the Greek far-right as it rails against the leftist government. Earlier this week an extreme-right Greek tabloid ran a front page depicting the prime minister being executed by firing squad for treason.
A new low for far right Greek newspaper Makeleio. Today it is calling for the execution of Greek PM Tsipras, Foreign Minister Kotzias and President Pavlopoulos for treason. #greece #macedonia #northmacedonia #fyrom @atsipras @NikosKotzias pic.twitter.com/IwyybXTJcz
— Kostas Kallergis (@KallergisK) June 13, 2018
Greece has seen a wave of far-right violence in recent months targeting migrants, minorities and liberal politicians. Neo-Nazis in Athens carried out an arson attack on an Afghan community center in March, and a month later far-right demonstrators attacked migrants on the island of Lesbos and chanted “burn them alive.”
A nationalist mob also assaulted the 75-year-old liberal mayor of the city of Thessaloniki last month, forcing him to be hospitalized. The daughter of Golden Dawn’s leader applauded the attack on Twitter.
Golden Dawn has 15 seats in Greece’s 300-seat parliament, and it is a consistent source of controversy in Greek politics. The party holds ultranationalist views and violently opposes immigration, holding rallies where black-shirted men hold red banners bearing a swastika-like logo.
HuffPost Greece contributed reporting to this article.