Greece’s main opposition force, Syriza, must remain united after the internal elections on Sunday (24 September) to be able to “take down” conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, an official of the EU Left told Euractiv amid growing internal tensions in the leftist Greek party.
“We need a united Syriza to take down Mitsotakis”, said the EU Left official, who wanted to remain anonymous.
Following a heavy defeat by the conservative New Democracy party (EPP) in the national elections last July, Syriza’s leader, former prime minister Alexis Tsipras, resigned.
Since then, Syriza has been struggling to get back on its feet and elect a new president amid growing tensions over the ideological orientation of the party, which belongs to the European Left.
On 17 September, Stefanos Kasselakis, a 35-year-old US-educated businessman, the most recent addition to the race for Syriza leadership, surprisingly won the first round of the internal elections with 45%.
Second-ranked was former minister Efi Achtsioglou with 36.2%.
‘Newcomer’ wins first round of Greece’s left elections
Stefanos Kasselakis, a 35-year-old businessman, the most recent addition to the race for Greek main opposition leftist Syriza party’s leadership, won the first round of the internal elections on Sunday, getting 45% of the vote. A crucial second round is …
A ‘balance of terror’
The two will now compete next Sunday in a second round described as a “clash between two worlds” within the party.
Several Greek media reported that a potential victory for Kasselakis may lead to Syriza’s split as several traditional leftist figures consider him a “foreign body”.
However, for others, Kasselakis represents the “new” element Syriza needs to reinvent itself and face the ruling conservative New Democracy.
Yet, his liberal profile has not been left unnoticed by the government, considering that currently, only Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has captured the “liberal” space of Greece’s political spectrum.
A lot will depend on who the other contestants will support. In the first round, Euclid Tsakalotos got 8.78%, Nikos Pappas 8.7%, and Stefanos Tzoumakas 1.3%.
On Tuesday (19 September), Pappas publicly backed Kasselakis while it is estimated that Tsakalotos will support Achtsioglou.
Tensions flared up shortly afterwards when Achtsioglou called for a debate with Kasselakis, who responded that debates are for “rivals” and instead invited his rival on a joint tour across Greece ahead of the elections.
The EU Left official did not want to comment on Syriza’s internal elections but stressed that “we will collaborate with whoever gets elected”.
The official emphasised the need to stick to left-wing values and added that whoever is elected will be invited to the European Parliament, either to Brussels or Strasbourg, to discuss the agenda and priorities.
(Sarantis Michalopoulos | Euractiv.com)
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]
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