SYRIZA, once the star of the European Left, plunges into disarray
The main opposition party in Greece, SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left), is facing internal conflict after a controversial proposal by its leader, Stefanos Kasselakis, to hold a referendum on the expulsion of certain party members has led to a significant backlash and a series of high-profile resignations.
SYRIZA emerged as a shining example for the European Left in the mid-2010s, governing Greece during a tumultuous socioeconomic era from 2015 to mid-2019.
Stefanos Kasselakis, the new leader of the party, who had previously announced the expulsion of four prominent SYRIZA members in October, is now facing opposition from within his ranks. The members targeted for removal include Nikos Filis, Panos Skourletis, Dimitris Vitsas, and Stefanos Tzoumakas, reports Kathimerini. In response to Kasselakis's call for an internal referendum, several top officials who had initially supported or remained neutral on Kasselakis's leadership have now voiced their disagreement.
Among the dissenters are Olga Gerovasili, Kostas Zacharias, Thanasis Theocharopoulos, Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou, Giannis Ragousis, Nikos Pappas, and Alekos Flambouraris, all of whom held senior positions during the tenure of Alexis Tsipras, the former leader of SYRIZA. They argue that resignations have already been announced, rendering the proposed referendum unnecessary and inappropriate.
The upheaval comes just before the party's central committee meeting, scheduled for Saturday. It is expected to be a battleground for the various factions within SYRIZA as they prepare to address these latest developments.
In a statement issued on Friday, former speaker of Parliament Nikos Voutsis announced his departure from SYRIZA, criticizing the party's current trajectory under Kasselakis's leadership. Voutsis accused Kasselakis of moving the party away from its leftist ideology towards the political center, potentially causing irreparable political damage.
Similarly, former SYRIZA secretary Panos Skourletis has left the party, citing missteps since 2019 and the current leadership's departure from SYRIZA's foundational left-wing principles. Skourletis's statement pointed to recent electoral defeats and accused Kasselakis of leading a divisive strategy to dissolve the party's leftist identity.
The escalating crisis within SYRIZA reflects the party's struggle to redefine itself following its time in government and its challenges in maintaining unity among its diverse members. With critical figures stepping down and internal dissent growing, the future of Greece's main opposition party hangs in the balance as it grapples with issues of identity, direction, and leadership.