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SYRIZA Headed For New Party Leadership Battle

Srefanos Kasselakis Syriza
New leader of Syriza, Stefanos Kasselakis. Credit: Amna

Main Greek opposition party SYRIZA is likely headed for yet another leadership battle, five months after its members elected Stefanos Kasselakis as the new party leader.

The developments come after the party’s former chairman Alexis Tsipras, who served as Greek Prime Minister from 2015 to 2019, urged on Thursday his successor to seek a renewed vote of confidence from the party’s membership ahead of its congress, which started that day.

The former Prime Minister’s intervention was triggered by Kasselakis’ request to the party’s Political Secretariat on Wednesday for a three-year blank check which would allow him to retain the party leadership until the next national elections, regardless of the outcome of the European Parliament elections in June.

“I can neither remain silent, nor can I attend a congress that has been set up to ignore the critical problems in the name of false optimism,” Tsipras noted in his article-intervention.

SYRIZA party leader’s response to criticism

Kasselakis became the new SYRIZA leader after winning the second round ballot of the party elections over the former minister of Employment, Effie Achtsioglou, in September.

Achtsioglou and ten other MPs broke away from SYRIZA and formed the party New Left (Nea Aristera) following Kasselakis’ win in that leadership battle.

But internal critisicm for the newly elected party leader has continued, which forced Kasselakis to open the SYRIZA conference with a speech challenging those who doubted his leadership.

“I will not become a chairman under a deadline, find me an opponent and let’s go,” Kasselakis said in his keynote speech at the SYRIZA congress on Thursday evening.

Many delegates argued that this would negatively impact the party’s unity and new leadership vote should wait until after the European elections, AMNA observes.

So far, only Olga Gerovasili has reportedly expressed interest in becoming a candidate leader against Kasselakis, with behind-the-scenes support from Tsipras. The Arta-born politician is one of seven deputy parliamentary speakers and also served as minister and government spokesperson when SYRIZA was in power.

Her candidacy could be announced later on Saturday.

In any case, all potential candidates for SYRIZA’s leadership should have come forward by Sunday afternoon, when the congress will have been completed.

Kasselakis believes he could become Prime Minister

“Changes that need to be made” are to “match the party with society,” Kasselakis said in an interview to the radio station “Kokkino” on Friday after his speech at the 4th Congress of the party.

He also stated that he is “the last person stuck to his chair” and that he wants to “contribute to the country” from a position that will have the legitimization of the members and the base.

Kasselakis insisted that SYRIZA has the potential to “unite the whole progressive world, into a great progressive alliance” and called on the party’s voters to attend the open conference.

In a separate interview with Ta Nea newspaper, published on Saturday, Kasselakis appears convinced that he could become Prime Minister if he remains the party leader until the next national elections, but says that he would also “one thousand percent” stay in Greece and in the party even if he loses the upcoming party elections to another candidate.

The new SYRIZA leadership vote could take place by the end of March, the party’s deputy secretary Giorgos Vassiliadis told a current affairs show on Ant1 TV.

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