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SYRIZA’s Stefanos Kasselakis Joins Parade on Greek Independence Day

Stefanos Kasselakis (left) prepared to march in the town of Thebes. Credit: Video screenshot/NewsIt

Stefanos Kasselakis, the leader of Greece’s main opposition party, SYRIZA, who is currently doing his military service joined the military parade for Independence Day at the town of Thebes.

He was seen parading with other freshers in the center of the town.

Kasselakis started his brief military service in an army barrack in Thebes more than 10 days ago. He is due to receive basic military training for 20 days.

Military service is mandatory for all Greek males. Kasselakis had been exempt from military service as he was residing in the US since age 14. When he returned to Greece he had two options: Spending six months in the military or serving for three weeks and buying off the rest of his time.

While it has a sizeable number of professional troops, Greece’s military is still conscription-based, with service in most cases set at 12 months.

Receiving basic military training has not deterred him from delving into politics through statements and social media.

On Sunday he called on Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to resign “so Greece can be led in an orderly manner to democratic elections,” in a video he posted on social media

His response was prompted among others by media reports alleging manipulation of evidence in order to claim the fatal Tempe train collision in February 2023 was caused by human error rather than by negligence at the official level.

Kasselakis said that elections should be held “in the presence of international observers, because a prime minister whose government manipulates criminal evidence, surveils political and military leaders through the National Intelligence Service and Predator software, and divulges citizens’ personal data for electoral purposes cannot hold fair elections without a shadow of doubt.” He then called on Mitsotakis to respond within 24 hours.

Kasselakis said he decided to address citizens sooner than the end of his military service ends because “developments are rapid.”

The turbulent leadership of Stefanos Kasselakis

Kasselakis, 36, a former businessman without political experience who is gay, was the surprise winner at the SYRIZA elections held last September.

He took the reigns of the party a few months after the catastrophic election results in June/July 2023 that forced former leader and former PM Alexis Tsipras to resign.

His meteoric rise to leadership had upset many leftwing traditionalists who accused him of “right-wing populism” and authoritarian practices.

On 23 November 2023, 9 Members of Parliament (MPs), 1 Member of the European Parliament (MEP), and 57 central committee members declared their departure from the political party in protest of Kasselakis’ leadership.

Notable figures among them included Effi Achtsioglou along with other former ministers. A few days later previously resigned MPs Euclid Tsakalotos and Peti Perka joined forces with the 9 MPs to announce the establishment of a new political entity called “New Left”.

More recently amidst political turmoil and disagreements regarding Kasselakis’ approaches and agenda, MPs and members of the central committee of SYRIZA initiated a rebellion against Kasselakis’ decision to conduct a survey asking the party’s voters whether SYRIZA should alter its name and ideological focus.

RelatedStefanos Kasselakis: The Rising Star of the Greek Left

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