Stefanos Kasselakis, the SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance president. EPA-EFE/GEORGE VITSARAS


Greece’s Syriza splinters as left-wing faction leaves party


Syriza, Greece’s main opposition party, is splintering as its left-wing faction turns its back on the party.

After weeks of rising tensions following the election of ex-Goldman Sachs banker Stefanos Kasselakis as Syriza’s leader, the party’s left-wing “Umbrella” faction is leaving the party after a tumultuous Syriza central committee meeting Saturday.

The split was likely after Kasselakis requested the removal of three Umbrella members, all previous ministers.

Facing the possibility his motion would not pass the party’s Disciplinary Commission or Central Committee, Kasselakis recommended the party base vote on the expulsion on the eve of the Central Committee meeting.

Umbrella, led by former finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos, announced its withdrawal from the party with a stinging declaration aimed at Kasselakis.

The Syriza leader engages in “Trumpian practices”, “Bonapartism”, “undemocratic behaviour”, “authoritarianism”, and “right-leaning populism”, says Tsakalotos, who stood against Kasselakis for the party’s leadership in September.

Umbrella’s “vision is a Socialism with liberty and democracy,” the faction says in its announcement.

The party wants to be “part of the European and international left”, supporting a programme that is “critical-thinking left, deeply democratic, youthful, ecological, feminist, movement-oriented, anti-racist”, it says.

They may form a new party, possibly ahead of May 2024 European elections, says Umbrella member and former minister Dimitris Vitsas.

A first step is holding a party conference to “move forward and open the party to society”, he says.

In Greece’s May and June elections, Syriza sought to dethrone the conservative New Democracy but faced defeats in the voting booth, causing long-time leader Alexis Tsipras to resign in June.

Described by critics as a “technocrat without a solid political background”, Kasselekis has faced a lack of trust from party members after taking over the party in September.

Kasselekis, a recent arrival from America, encountered language barriers and implemented American-style communication and marketing techniques during his campaign.

He also has campaigned for lower taxes, while saying in September he would take a break from politics to engage in mandatory military service.

For some traditionalists, his approach has disconnected the party from its traditional left-wing ideals.