A homophobic extreme-right party has made gains in Greece, and looked set to enter the European Parliament for the first time.

Exit polls on Sunday suggested that the Golden Dawn party, controversial, and often accused of links to Naziism, had gained between 9 and 10% of the vote, and would take 3 of Greece’s 21 MEP seats.

Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panagiotaros recently described Hitler as a “great personality, like Stalin”.

He also referred to gay people as “faggots”, and said: “Until 1997, [the] international association of doctors, and I don’t know what, considered homosexuality a sickness, illness, which it is.”

The party denies accusations that it follows neo-Nazi ideology, that it is a criminal organisation and that its members are anti-Semitic.

“Golden Dawn is the third political power in Greece, it’s the only party that shows such a steep rise,” said Ilias Kasidiaris, the Golden Dawn spokesman known for having a swastika tattoo on his arm.

Even the French National Front, which won the election in France with around a quarter of the vote, sought to distance itself from the idea of working with Golden Dawn.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front described rumours that the parties would work together as a “smear” and “false and defamatory”.

She said any chance of her party working with Golden Dawn had been “excluded”.