Athens: Greece's election campaign turned ugly on live TV. The spokesman of the extreme-right Golden Dawn party, after trading insults of "commie" and "fascist", lunged at two female left-wing politicians on a mainstream morning talk show, throwing water at one and smacking the other three times across the face.
The violent display reminiscent of trash TV, a week and a half ahead of crucial elections, stunned Greeks as they seek to avoid a catastrophic exit from Europe's common euro currency.
A prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for Ilias Kasidiaris whose party alarmed Europe by gaining 21 of Parliament's 300 seats in Greece's inconclusive May 6 elections.
Golden Dawn, which vehemently denies the neo-Nazi label, has been accused of violent attacks against immigrants in Athens. The party denies involvement in the attacks, insisting it is a nationalist patriotic group.
It campaigned on a platform of ridding the country of illegal immigrants and cleaning up crime-ridden neighborhoods, and advocates planting anti-personnel mines along Greece's borders to stop migrants from sneaking across.
The attack "put on public display what was widely known," said the radical left-wing Syriza party, whose member Rena Dourou was splashed with water on the show. "The true face of this criminal organisation."
Tempers frayed on the daily morning political show on the private Antenna television station during a political debate, to which representatives of all seven parties that won parliamentary seats on May 6 had been invited.
Discussion had turned to the country's natural resources. But it went off on a tangent about political history in Greece, which suffered a vicious civil war between Communists and the right-wing after World War II, and a seven-year military dictatorship that ended in 1974.
Kasidiaris, his temper wearing thin, shot an insult of "you old Commie" at 58-year-old prominent Communist Party member Liana Kanelli, in return for her branding him a "fascist." Kasidiaris, 31, who served in the military's special forces, also took offense at a reference by Dourou to a court case pending against him.
It all careened into violence when Dourou said there was a "crisis of democracy when people who will take the country back 500 years have got into the Greek parliament." Kasidiaris bounded out of his seat and hurled a glass of water at her, shouting an insult loosely translated as "you circus act."
Talk show host Giorgos Papadakis shouting "no, no, no!" ran over to Kasidiaris, attempting to calm him down.
But the Golden Dawn member turned on Kanelli, who had stood up and appeared to throw a newspaper at him. Kasidiaris hit Kanelli three times with hard right-left-right slaps to the sides of her head.
Papadakis tried and failed to restrain him. The channel cut to a commercial break, and returned five minutes later without Kasidiaris.