SYRIZA in turmoil as "Umbrella" faction departs
The Greek political landscape witnessed another day of high drama as the internal strife within SYRIZA, the main opposition party, intensified on the second day of its Central Committee meeting. The party's internal tensions reached a boiling point following the election of Stefanos Kasselakis as the new leader, culminating in the departure of the "Umbrella" faction, which includes several high-profile members and former ministers.
The "Umbrella" faction, led by former Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, announced its official departure from SYRIZA, marking a significant schism within the party. The departure resulted from growing dissatisfaction with Kasselakis's leadership style, which has been characterized by some as abandoning the party's core leftist values in favor of a more individual-centric approach dubbed "post-politics."
Accusations flew thick and fast as the "Umbrella" faction lambasted Kasselakis for what they described as "Trumpian practices," citing his focus on right-leaning populism and a disregard for the historical trajectory of the left. In a defiant statement, the departing members affirmed their commitment to a vision of socialism rooted in liberty and democracy.
Tensions had been escalating for several weeks, leading to Kasselakis's controversial move to seek the expulsion of three prominent "Umbrella" members from the party. The trio, all former ministers with significant roles in the party's history, were Panos Skourletis, Dimitris Vitsas, and Nikos Filis. The expulsions signaled a breaking point, with "Umbrella" accusing Kasselakis of emulating divisive figures like Italian comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo and former US President Donald Trump.
As the "Umbrella" faction exits, speculation mounts over their next steps, including potentially forming a new political party. The future of SYRIZA's support base is uncertain, with many eyes watching to see how many will follow the splinter group.
The internal discord was further highlighted by the departure of Stefanos Tzoumakas, a party member whom Kasselakis previously suspended. Additionally, the refusal to hold an immediate vote to revoke Kasselakis's proposal to expel dissident members led to a coordinated walkout by several factions from the committee meeting.
In another twist, a claim by Kasselakis that he had reached out to former labor minister Effie Achtsioglou in good faith was contested, adding fuel to the fiery debate within the party's ranks.
The political saga continues as MPs Euclid Tsakalotos and Pete Perka, aligned with the "Umbrella" faction, have refused to relinquish their parliamentary seats despite Kasselakis's calls. This defiance points to a deepening rift within SYRIZA and raises questions about the party's ability to present a united front in Greek politics.
Efi Achtsioglou and a group of seven MPs have opted to remain in SYRIZA-PS but have taken a firm stance against Kasselakis, condemning his methods and divisive rhetoric.