The match of Greek left Syriza went to the polls this Sunday to elect a new leader after the resignation of the former prime minister Alexis Tsipras, who resigned after the disaster in the elections before the Nueva Democracia de Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Syriza’s bases came to vote for the second consecutive Sunday after None of the candidates will exceed 50% of the votes in the first round. With a clear response of 56.69%% of votes, Stefanos Kasselakis, 35, becomes the new leader of the group. Kasselakis has prevailed over the former Minister of Labor and favorite candidate in the polls, Efi Ajtsioglu, which obtained 43.31% of votes. Members went en masse to the polls, with 70% participation of the total of 180,000 members, with a participation similar to the first round. “Greece needs the unity of Syriza. We will all move forward together,” Kasselakis said after voting in the party’s elections.
Kasselakis’ victory represents a vase of cold water for the most left wing of the party, who viewed with skepticism the rapid rise and popularity that Kasselakis has obtained among the bases, especially among the youngest. Kasselakis has been criticized for not having a clear program and populist gestures on social networks. “It’s as if Netflix came in, took over the party and now turned it into a series,” said left-wing writer Dimitris Psarras. “People have no idea what his policies are about or if he has any programs,” he added. Kasselakis is a liberal-leaning former banker who until two months ago lived in the United States and was practically unknown among Syriza affiliates. “Those who vote for him do not consider it a problem not to know him,” said the columnist of KathimeriniNikos Konstandars. “They vote for him precisely because they don’t know him” he writes, after warning that he perceives his support as a demand for change within the formation, which has been experiencing an internal crisis for some time. There is a division in the formation between those who suggest a more leftward turn and those who prefer a more modest approach of opening towards the center-left. Kasselakis’ victory could lead to the abandonment of part of the members, who They criticize that the new leader is not a deputy and could harm the Syriza leadership. The left wing of the party also does not look favorably on his previous work at the US bank. Goldman Sachs, responsible for helping Greece manipulate its public accounts in the early 2000s, leading to the country’s economic downfall. The young leader defends himself by saying that thanks to his work experience he has “understood the arrogance” of economic circles. The Kasselakis’ election promises are also unusual among the Syriza leadership: it has unearthed issues forgotten on the Greek left in recent years, such as the separation between Church and State or the end of compulsory military service. Kasselakis is also openly gay and has presented her husband, an American nurse, in public from the first moment.
“Today the word belongs to the tens of thousands of Syriza members,” Tsipras declared during election day. “Tomorrow we will have the president that the Greeks elect.” The former prime minister remains very influential in the party and in recent weeks there has been much speculation about which candidate he would prefer in charge. After his resignation, the Greek media claimed that he supported Efi Ajtsioglu, former Minister of Labor during his term. Ajtsioglu was the favorite in the polls, although she came second in the first round of voting with 36% of the votes, compared to Kasselakis’ 44.9%. However, there has also been speculation that the new leader could have the approval of Tsipras and already had the support of his brother, deputy Yorgos.