Five Vie to Lead Greece’s SYRIZA after Crushing Election Defeat


Effie Achtsioglou, the only woman in the race, is the frontrunner to take over from Alexis Tsipras and lead a promised revival of the left-wing opposition SYRIZA party.

Five candidates will vie for the leadership of Greece’s left-wing SYRIZA party next month following the resignation of Alexis Tsipras in the wake of a crushing electoral defeat in June.

Thirty-five year-old US-educated shipping investor Stefanos Kasselakis, who is openly gay and worked for the investment bank Goldman Sachs, became the latest to throw his hat into the ring on Tuesday.

But it’s the only woman in the field, 38-year-old former labour minister Effie Achtsioglou, who is considered the frontrunner in a party election set for September 10, with a potential second round run-off six days later.

Tsipras took SYRIZA to power in 2015 on a promise to end the austerity imposed on Greece by its international creditors in the European Union and International Monetary Fund in exchange for a succession of financial bailouts, but was accused of hypocrisy by his critics when the painful spending cuts and tax rises continued.

The party lost elections in 2019 to the conservative New Democracy, which dealt SYRIZA another bruising defeat in June this year. With just 17.8 per cent of the popular vote, 49-year-old Tsipras resigned from the post he had held since 2008, saying he understood the “need for a new wave of SYRIZA”.

“Let’s not allow a single day to be lost both in the confrontation with New Democracy’s government and in the confrontation with our own weaknesses, pathologies and problems,” he said.

Besides Kasselakis and Achtsioglou, the other three candidates to replace Tsipras are: 63-year-old former finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos; 47-year-old Tsipras lieutenant Nikos Pappas; and 77-year-old political veteran Stefanos Tzoumakas.

Tsakalotos grew up in Britain and graduated from Oxford. The SYRIZA government’s chief negotiator in aid talks with international creditors, Tsakalotos was appointed finance minister in 2015 after the resignation of Yanis Varoufakis and remained in the post until 2019.

Pappas is a controversial figure having been given a two-year suspended sentence in April over his handling of a 2016 television licence tender under the then SYRIZA government. Pappas says he is the victim of a political vendetta and will take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Tzoumakas was a founding member of the centre-left PASOK party who has held a range of ministerial posts; he began collaborating with SYRIZA in 2019 and became the head of the party’s Political Strategy and Analysis Committee.

Kasselakis, who joined the race on Tuesday, has spoken about the importance of the separation of church and state and called for the abolition of compulsory military service.

“I don’t have a gay agenda. I have a human agenda,” he said.

Source : Balkaninsight