The Decline of Syriza: A Shift in Greek Politics

Political landscape in Greece has shifted dramatically in recent months, with the once-mighty left-wing party Syriza experiencing a significant decline in popularity. The party, which was once led by the charismatic Alexis Tsipras, has seen a wave of defections and a drop in the polls.

Tsipras’ Leadership and Syriza’s Downfall

For years, Syriza was synonymous with the leadership of Alexis Tsipras, who served as Greece’s prime minister from 2015 to 2019. However, Tsipras’ charisma was not enough to secure victory for the party in the 2019 elections, as the conservative New Democracy party emerged with a majority.

Tsipras’ failure to maintain power led to his resignation and the subsequent primary elections to choose a successor.

Kaselakis’ Rise to Power

In the primary elections, Estéfanos Kaselakis emerged as the new leader of Syriza, winning the support of 56% of party members. Kaselakis, who is married to another man and has a background in finance, brought a fresh image and style to the party. However, his tenure as leader has been marred by internal divisions and a decline in support.

Internal Disputes and Defections

Since assuming leadership, Kaselakis has faced numerous challenges, including the departure of 11 out of 47 Syriza MPs. These defectors, including former minister Efi Ajtsioglu and ex-Finance Minister Euclidis Tsakalotos, have cited dissatisfaction with the new leadership and a lack of internal power. The official party line is that the departures were not ideologically motivated, but rather a result of personal ambitions clashing with the new leadership.

Kaselakis’ Leadership Style and Policy Proposals

Critics of Kaselakis argue that his leadership style and policy proposals have contributed to the internal divisions and decline in support for Syriza. Some have accused him of being too focused on neoliberal economic policies, particularly in his proposals for labor market reforms. These criticisms have been echoed by party members and local officials, with over 1,000 local party positions being vacated since Kaselakis assumed leadership.

Syriza’s Decline in the Polls

The internal divisions and defections have had a significant impact on Syriza’s standing in the polls. Recent surveys have shown the party falling behind the socialist Pasok party in terms of voter intention. In fact, only a fraction of the 930,000 voters who supported Syriza in the last election would do so again. This decline in popularity has raised concerns about the future of the party and its ability to remain a viable opposition force.

Formation of a New Party

In response to their dissatisfaction with Kaselakis’ leadership, Ajtsioglu, Tsakalotos, and other former Syriza members have announced the formation of a new party. This new party aims to be a left-wing, feminist, and environmentalist alternative to Syriza. However, the new party faces challenges in terms of funding and establishing a presence outside of Athens.

Future of Syriza and Greek Politics

The immediate challenge for both Syriza and the breakaway faction will be the upcoming European elections. While they will compete against each other and other parties, both groups deny that their former colleagues are their primary targets. Instead, they aim to attract a broader base of support and present themselves as open to new ideas and perspectives.

Assessing Tsipras’ Role

Many analysts and party members have wondered about Tsipras’ stance on the current situation and why he has remained silent. Some believe that Tsipras is partly responsible for the current state of affairs and therefore chooses to stay neutral.

Others speculate that he is waiting to see which way the wind blows before aligning himself with one faction or another.

Challenges Ahead for Kaselakis and Syriza

With the breakaway faction out of the picture, Kaselakis now has an opportunity to solidify his leadership and strategic vision for Syriza. However, the party’s future hinges on the outcome of the upcoming congress and the results of the European elections. A defeat in these elections would not only endanger Kaselakis’ political career but also threaten the survival of Syriza as a whole.

Conclusion

Decline of Syriza and the rise of internal divisions within the party have reshaped the political landscape in Greece. The leadership of Estéfanos Kaselakis has faced significant challenges and has yet to gain the confidence of party members and voters.

The formation of a new party by disaffected members further complicates the situation. The upcoming European elections will be a crucial test for Syriza and its ability to regain its former prominence.