For several weeks, Syriza, Greece’s main left-wing party, has been experiencing a serious political crisis due to major arguments and internal disagreements between the old party leadership and Stefanos Kasellakis, the new leader elected in September. Since the beginning of November, Syriza has lost nearly a quarter of its parliamentarians and dozens of its leaders: and in the midst of all this, according to opinion polls, the party is suffering a significant decline in its popularity among the Greek population.
The main reason for the controversy concerns the personality of Kasellakis, a director with no political experience who until recently worked at the investment bank Goldman Sachs and who is considered by the Syriza leadership and voters to be too far removed from the ideas of traditional leftists: in recent weeks he has been accused of adopting “Trumpist practices” and of being a right-wing populist. And that “Neoliberalism».
Kasellakis was elected somewhat surprisingly in Syriza’s primary election in September, after the resignation of historic leader Alexis Tsipras, who suffered a harsh defeat in this summer’s general election. Except for having spent most of his career at an American investment bank (which many on the left view with suspicion), Kasellakis has no history of active politics on the Greek left, and until a few months ago was living in the United States, in Miami.
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After two months of controversy and resentment, the situation worsened further in November. Two weeks ago, a faction of about fifty leaders – including two parliamentarians – led by former Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos withdrew from the party, claiming that Kasellakis wanted to abandon the leftist, anti-capitalist ideology underpinning Syriza. Tsakalotos and his allies were part of a faction called “The Umbrella” which had been in open conflict with Kasellakis for several months. The split occurred when the secretary threatened to expel some Umbrella members.
Then an even bigger split occurred on Wednesday. 57 members of the steering committee withdrew from the party, including 9 MPs and one in the European Parliament. The new division is led by Efi Achzoglou, the former labor minister who lost in the September primary election to Kassellakis. In a statement published Thursday, the new dissidents said that Kasellakis was “elected democratically, but is proceeding in an undemocratic manner,” and accused him of turning Syriza into an “amorphous” party and of being “a mixture of contradictory opinions without any depth.” “.
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In less than two weeks, Syriza lost 11 out of 47 parliamentarians. If the divisions continue, he risks losing his role as the main opposition force in parliament. The center-left PASOK party controls 32 seats. However, the majority is firmly controlled by New Democracy, the center-right party of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, with 158 seats. Among other things, the number of eleven parliamentarians who have left Syriza in recent weeks is now sufficient to shape A new group in parliament, which could further compete with Syriza.
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