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Greek Socialist Leader Fofi Gennimata Dies at 57

Fofi Gennimata
Greek politician Fofi Gennimata is dead at the age of 57. Credit: KINAL

Greek socialist leader Fofi Gennimata died on Monday at an Athens hospital at 57. She had been diagnosed with a relapse of her cancer earlier in October.

On October 11 she was admitted to Athens’ Evangelismos Hospital with an intestinal obstruction. She died “after a years’ long battle and despite the efforts of her attending physicians,” the hospital’s administration said in a statement on Monday, expressing its condolences to her family.

Gennimata, leader of the socialist party PASOK and the center-left coalition Movement for Change (KINAL), withdrew from the race to elect a new leader for the party that is due to take place in December. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008.

“The deterioration of my health, which requires hospitalization and treatment, obliges me not to participate as a candidate in the electoral process for the election of the President of the Movement for Change,” Gennimata had said in a statement at the time.

“Today we say goodbye to Fofi Gennimata with deep emotion. A brave woman who fought all the battles of her life with dignity,” said President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Twitter.

“She served her principles in public life with political ethos and a kindness of soul that we will all miss,” she added.

“I was shocked and saddened to learn about the death of Fofi Gennimata. I say goodbye to her with respect. But also flooded with thoughts caused by her so unjust and untimely loss. Because politics is, above all, humane,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a statement on Monday.

Gennimata, a dominant figure of the center-left in Greece

Gennimata, daughter of Greek politician Giorgos Gennimatas who was credited for establishing the Greek public health system during the government of PASOK in the 1980’s, is a well-respected figure in the politics of the country.

In the last national elections of July 2019, the KINAL alliance took 8.1 percent of the vote, electing 22 MPs. It’s currently the third-largest Parliamentary group in Greece.

Through her leadership KINAL is trying to expand its electoral base and promote itself as the realistic alternative to the conservative administration of Mitsotakis.

The 57-year-old politician has been president of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) since 2015. Since 2017, she serves as the president of the Movement for Change, a coalition of center-left parties formed around PASOK.

PASOK is the historic center-left party that governed Greece for more than 25 years after its foundation in 1974.

From October 2009 to September 2010, Gennimata served as a Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare in the Cabinet of George Papandreou, and from September 2010 to November 2011, she served as an Alternate Minister of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs in the same cabinet.

In 2012, Gennimata was appointed as a spokesperson for PASOK.

Gennimata was elected as Leader of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement at their tenth conference, after Evangelos Venizelos stepped down as leader a year before the conclusion of his term. She won the leadership election with 51% of the vote, beating Odysseas Konstantinopoulos and Andreas Loverdos.

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