A first “casualty” among the candidates vying for a European Parliament seat came on Thursday, with a high-profile television show panelist and personality running on leftist SYRIZA ticket unceremoniously cashiered after one of his recent statements was criticized as insensitive to women.

Speaking during an on-air exchange with a candidate for rival New Democracy (ND) party, presenter Dimitris Papanotas expressed a view that “I don’t see a woman in Greece, and in general in the European Union, having any problem, unless she wants to have one. In other words, if she’s with a satrap (a tyrant) who abuses her, and she doesn’t speak up and stays there and tolerates it, then it’s her problem.”

The dredged-up statement drew an immediate cascade of criticism by political rivals, but what “tipped the scales” against Papanotas was the reaction by one his fellow SYRIZA candidates, 2004 Olympics sailing gold-medalist Sofia Bekatorou. The latter is credited with sparking Greece’s version of the “Metoo” movement some two years ago after she aired sexual harassment and abuse allegations again a senior Hellenic Sailing Federation official. She publicly maintained that the abuse occurred shortly after trials for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, 21 years earlier.

“I hope that the party (SYRIZA) will make the decision it must on the Papanotas issue,” she said this week, adding that she was awaiting the latter’s reaction.

After attracting media attention, rivals’ criticism and Becatorou’s stern reaction, SYRIZA leader Stefanos Kasselakis – himself at the center of criticism this week within his party – stated that:

“Regretfully, I am forced to exclude Dimitris Papanotas from the European ballot. I am aware that he made a clarifying statement, however, the issue which he referred to is particularly sensitive, and isn’t debatable, especially for a party that human rights and equality as its masthead.”

Nevertheless, in a first reaction, Papanotas referred to a “victory” by ruling New Democracy (ND) party from his expulsion

“It is a great victory for Adonis Georgiadis, New Democracy, the New Left party and PASOK, at the expense of SYRIZA. I commend them for the shallow way of thinking in which they dealt with this issue and I am truly sorry,” Papanotas said in statements to an afternoon TV current affairs program.