Five candidates for the leadership of the leftist SYRIZA party in Greece are vowing to reverse the decline in the party’s popularity following successive election defeats, during the first round of elections that take place on Sunday.
SYRIZA hopes that massive participation in the elections could help restore the party’s appeal. Polls will close at 8 in the evening, so that members can cast their votes at the 570 polling stations that have been set up across the country. All members 15 plus have the right to vote.
If a second round is needed based on the results of this election, this will take place on Sunday, September 24.
At the June 2023 Greek legislative election, SYRIZA received a record low percentage of 17.83 percent since the May 2012 Greek legislative election.
Tsipras announced his resignation four days after the elections on June 29, 2023. He stated that the party needs, “profound renewal and refoundation.” He added “the negative [election] result can – and must – become the beginning” of a new cycle for the party.
The five candidates for SYRIZA leadership
Former Labor Minister Efi Achtsioglou, 38, is pegged as one of the more popular candidates.
A lawyer by training during her tenure in the Tsipras cabinet between 2016 and 2019, she was linked with the expansion of collective bargaining, the raise of the minimum wage by eleven percent and by twenty-seven percent for young people, the abolishment of sub-minimum wage, and the decrease in unemployment.
The second favorite – according to opinion polls – is 36-year-old US-educated businessman Stefanos Kasselakis, who officially launched his campaign for leadership just two weeks before the election.
Kasselakis, a former Goldman Sachs employee and a volunteer in Joe Biden’s election campaign in 2008 is a new face in Greek politics.
Born in Athens with roots in Crete, he is an atypical candidate for a leftist party. He is openly gay and promises to bring a new era of renewal for SYRIZA.
Euclid Tsakalotos, 63, is an economist and politician who was Minister of Finance of Greece from 2015 to 2019. He is also a member of the Central Committee of SYRIZA.
Tsakalotos, who has been described as a “Marxist,” replaced the flamboyant Yanis Varoufakis after the 2015 referendum on the bailout agreement between Greece’s creditors and Alexis Tsipras.
He followed a less confrontational policy towards the creditors and signed a third bailout agreement that eventually ensured Greece exited the bailout era.
One of the more controversial candidates in the running is Tsipras’ right-hand man and former Minister of Digital Governance Nikos Pappas, 47.
They first met at a meeting of Synaspismos Youth when they were 19. He later became Tsipras’ chief of staff.
On February 24, 2023, Pappas was convicted by a Special Tribunal to two years in prison for the crime of breach of duty related to his handling of television broadcast licenses during his tenure in the cabinet from 2015 to 2019.
The election’s surprise candidate is 77-year-old Stefanos Tzoumakas a former member of socialist PASOK. A firebrand politician is regarded as an outsider in the party.