A verbal assault in Parliament against Communist Party (KKE) deputy Liana Kanelli cost Deputy Education Minister Giorgos Stylios his job on Thursday after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras asked the conservative cabinet member to resign.
The incident occurred in the House following a question by Kanelli regarding child malnutrition. After the deputy minister referred to a government program offering free fruit in schools, Kanelli said he reminded her of Marie Antoinette and the “Let them eat cake” phrase attributed to her. An exchange of barbs followed, with Kanelli interrupting Stylios several times, and ended in the latter accusing the KKE MP of “trying to turn me into Kasidiaris,” a reference to Golden Dawn’s spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris who slapped Kanelli on live television two years ago. “You want Kasidiaris, Ms Kanelli, but Stylios will not become a Kasidiaris,” Stylios said.
The comments prompted an outcry on social media, and reignited accusations of far-right sympathies within conservative New Democracy, triggering Stylios to apologize in comments outside Parliament. “Tensions often to lead to over-the-top statements,” he said. “I apologize to Ms Kanelli.”
Criticism continued, however, including a statement by coalition partner PASOK, which accused Stylios of “politically and morally unacceptable behavior.” Leftist SYRIZA said “government cadres invoking Golden Style-violence is a massive insult to democracy.”