Greece, Syriza earthquake: militants vote for Kasselakis and Achtsioglou

Greece, Syriza earthquake: militants vote for Kasselakis and Achtsioglou
Greece, Syriza earthquake: militants vote for Kasselakis and Achtsioglou

A real earthquake marked the result of the Syriza militants’ vote on Sunday evening for the new leader of the party. In first place with 45.47% was the outsider Stefanos Kasselakis. In second place with a difference of almost ten percentage points (36.21) is the other favorite in the polls: former minister Efi Achtsioglou. There is little distance between the other two candidates with Euclides Tsakalotos at 8.4% and Nikos Pappas at 8.64%. In last place with only 1.28%, as expected, Stefanos Tzoumakas, a spirited and capable leader who owes his lack of popularity to the fact that he comes from the left wing of the socialist party Pasok, which has been in decline for some time.

The massive influx of Syriza militants in these elections is also impressive and a good omen. While Greek pollsters predicted that voters would not exceed the number of 60 or 70 thousand, in the end around 146 thousand citizens went to the polls, almost the same number of those who rushed to vote in favor of Tsipras’ leadership in 2022 . This is not just the umpteenth confirmation of the fact that the pollsters in Greece are miserable, but it is an indication that the people of the left have received the message sent by Tsipras with his resignation after the double electoral defeat and are committed to laying the foundations of a government alternative to Mitsotakis’s destructive right. It should be noted that New Democracy and other right-wing groups have attempted to infiltrate voters. The alarm signal to the militants proposed to the polls was sounded both in Athens and in the province. In the city of Volos, a well-known supporter of the colonels and former collaborator of Mitsotakis’ father tried to approach the ballot box, but was blocked in time. The same also happened in many polling stations, particularly in the north of the country, with young and old notoriously far-right people posing as Syriza voters to infiltrate and influence the vote. But there were also those who moved from right to left at the last minute. In Patras, for example, the former mayor Floratos, a lifelong supporter of New Democracy, regularly joined Syriza and cast his vote in the ballot box. Even a famous actress, who publicly supported the right-wing candidate for the region, regularly went to the polling station to register and vote.

Even the vote in favor of a candidate who was unknown until yesterday but young and innovative confirms this push from the left-wing electorate. The second electoral round will take place next Sunday in which Syriza militants (only those already registered because next Sunday there will be no last-minute registrations) will have to choose between the young “American” and the brilliant former minister who led a pre-election campaign full of innovative ideas with an eye constantly turned towards a confused, divided and desperate society.
On the eve of the elections some groups, fortunately small and isolated, declared that if Kasselakis had won they would have caused a split in Syriza. Yesterday they didn’t make themselves heard, perhaps because the result is so clear that there is very little to separate. Both candidates in the final vote were chosen and rewarded because they sent a message of renewal and responsibility. Renewal with respect to the way of doing politics, still pregnant with what remains of democratic centralism, or dictated by academic thought, certainly well elaborated, but not capable of communicating with the popular masses. Both Kasselakis and Achtsioglou insisted a lot on the teaching of Tsipras’ experience: not only not to fear but to insist on Syriza’s governmental vocation, because this is the only hope of freeing oneself from neoliberal hell. Kasselakis also explicitly recalled the experience of the socialist government of Andreas Papandreou, the first progressive and democratic government since the end of the Second World War. Achtsioglou preferred to follow the example of Tsipras who re-proposed many of the measures in favor of the popular strata adopted at the time by the founder of Pasok but without mentioning him. In any case, the new leader of Syriza will have to lead the left towards government, otherwise he will end up like the communists of the KKE, happy to be eternally in opposition.

A final observation concerns the race of the two candidates to gain support among the three out of contention. According to some newspapers, Tsakalotos’ friends are leaning towards Achtsioglou, while supporters of Pappas and Tzoumakas say that the two former candidates will not take sides, aiming to guarantee the unity of the party and support the new leader, whoever he may be. The funniest thing is that on Sunday some alleged television journalists also asked Tsipras the same question, i.e. who he voted for, as he was leaving the polling station in the Plaka district of Athens. «Today the Syriza base is speaking. The thousands of Syriza members who flock to the polls speak. I am also present together with them, to deny those of you who were quick to decree that Syriza is absent”, was his response. Even as a simple militant he always remains a leader.

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