A new political actor has burst onto the left in Greece and aspires this Sunday to run as the new leader of the Progressive Alliance party known as Syriza. Is about Stefanos Kasselakis, a 35-year-old economist who until now lived in the United States – where he has developed his entire professional career – who barely has political experience. He defends the most liberal sector of the party and is openly gay. Thus follows a long list of unusual attributes in the Greek left-wing party, which has generated detractors and admirers in equal measure.
Kasselakis was unknown among party members and voters until the end of August, when he presented his candidacy to lead the party. In a video published on social networks, he introduced his electoral proposal with a story of personal and economic improvement in USAfar from the motherland Greece. His candidacy soared in the polls, although he was never in front of the polls. However, she won the first round with 45.4% of the votes against her favorite candidate, Efi Ajtsiogluwhich achieved 36.2%.
Electoral participation was higher than expected, with more than 80% of the 170,000 members going to the polls. “It was an unexpectedly high turnout, which marks the first step for the country to have a progressive government,” Kasselakis said after election day. Although it remains to be seen who the bases will support in the second round, Kasselakis plays with the symbolic advantage of having taken nine points over Ajtsioglu in the last vote.
Before submitting his proposal to lead the party, he unsuccessfully attempted to run for Mayor of Athens. Kasselakis is a native of Maroussi, a northern suburb of the Greek capital. When he was 14 years old, his family decided to move to the United States, where a few years later a young Stefanos began his career in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. In parallel with his studies, he made his first steps in politics as a volunteer for the then senator – and now president – Joe Biden for the 2008 presidential elections. He has also worked as a foreign policy advisor at a strategic studies center in Washington. However, his most striking job is at Goldman Sachs, the American bank known in Athens for helping to manipulate its public accounts in the early 2000s, which caused – among other circumstances – the country’s economic fall. After leaving the entity, he set up his own shipping company and lived in Miami until the middle of this summer.
His business and liberal profile is one of the aspects that has provoked the most detractors among the ranks of the party. His rivals accuse him of hobnobbing with the capitalist world, but Kasselakis defends himself by saying that thanks to his work experience he “has understood the arrogance” of economic circles. For his critics, his athlete’s demeanor and charismatic image fit more with the imagination of an American leader than a Hellenic one.