Regardless of whether Stefanos Kasselakis was elected as president of SYRIZA on Sunday, his skyrocketing popularity must mean something. The leftists who have associated themselves with the Athens Polytechnic uprising can retire, literally and figuratively.
Literally, because the so-called historic figures of the Greek Left will be sent home. Figuratively his election will consign many of the more sacred totems of the Greek Left to history’s trash heap. With his election, the Greek Left will be headed by someone who came straight from America, who has worked at Goldman Sachs and studied at Ivy League schools. No matter how much he claims to be a fanatic disciple of the leftist credo, it is a role that neither suits him nor holds credibility. But even if he is not elected, the fact that a “golden boy” came to the leadership of the Left is telling.
His election is also interesting in terms of what it may say about Greek society. A society that was not ready to accept the prospect of a woman as prime minister will accept an openly gay prospective prime minister? And would his election spook or anger another part of society, compelling it to even more extreme conservative views? The fact is that our society is changing, fast, and it will continue to change – what we don’t know is in which direction.
Greece’s political/party system has in the meantime been blindsided by the Kasselakis phenomenon. How was it that Konstantinos Mitsotakis described Andreas Papandreou’s sudden arrival onto the country’s political scene? “Like a meteor from America.” Sure, Kasselakis is no Papandreou, but this is more or less how the political establishment is treating the SYRIZA reality show that is grabbing so much attention. It understands that no one watches Parliament’s official broadcasting channel, Vouli, anymore. The political battle is fought for 30 seconds on TikTok. Just as certain politicians finally got somewhere after years of painstaking efforts, along comes this young man with money, chutzpah (extreme self-confidence or audacity), and communication know-how to turn everything on its head.
Only time will tell if Kasselakis himself will be able to stand the heat if he gets well and truly involved in the furnace of politics. Or he may prove too shallow.
What his sudden ascent also tells us, however, is that the job of a politician can be open to people who are not the product of political parties and families. Citizens’ reaction to members of political clans has become increasingly hostile, sometimes too much. We saw it in the aftermath of the Tempe rail crash and in the murder at Piraeus port. But anger is a completely different thing to awakening the desire among truly self-made men and women, private individuals, to become involved in public life. Some will be attention-seekers; others will be opportunists playing a short game. At the end of the day though, there is nothing wrong with new people joining the scene in a country whose prime ministers these last 68 years have been, with a few exceptions: a Karamanlis, a Papandreou, or a Mitsotakis.
Michalis Charalambidis a former PASOK insider talks about the state of politics in Greece today and the election of Kasselakis to Leader of Syriza.
We started with Goodbye New Democracy and Welcome Kiriakos Mitsotakis.
We have reached a point today where SYRIZA, wanting to overthrow the Kiriakos Mitsotrakis Party (New Democracy), nominated Stefanos Kasselakis first in the presidential elections, for the leadership of SYRIZA. A candidate who’s statements could easily be likened to an executive in the New Democracy party.
The party of Stefanos Kasselakis is here and has prospects but SYRIZA as a party is well and truly over.
SYRIZA was the latest new card in the political system in 2015 when there was apparently no other viable alternative. The political system in Greece is now selling to the public the anti-systemic option again as an alternative to the current political system. The political system is smart. It sees the possible end of the Mitsotakis Government is nearing and is preparing a new alternative, in a Kasselakis government. Today, for the political system in Greece, SYRIZA is useless and must fade away. Goodbye, SYRIZA, and welcome Stefanos Kasselakis.
The Syriza delegates fell into the trap of rights and identity politics, which created for them a flag or a banner under which they believe they would rally the society. Without any reference to the distinction between rich and poor anymore. Now the new banner is identity and self-determination rights and it comes with the new presidential challenger Stefanos Kasselakis who has arrived directly from the US.
The parties of Kiriakos Mitsotakis and Stefanos Kasselakis, are the new political establishment and their numerous offshoots in smaller parliamentary and even extra-parliamentary parties have become the reality for the present and future of the country, at a time when it’s potentially fighting for its very survival and existence.
At this time in history what is necessary is a great social and community patriotic-centered democratic front, which with an honest, selfless, enlightened, and determined character will be ready to suffer whatever sacrifices are necessary, with a leadership that, can bear the enormous burden of real national, economic, social and cultural redirection that will drive the nation to a rebirth of Hellenism and Greece.
How likely is it that we will see this “new direction”, which will “reboot” the country? Politics are not scripted as if a scenario. The expected change will not come in a dream. It takes planning, action, and a patriotic restart.
The society wants a convincing answer to the current uncontrolled dangers for democracy and Hellenism. It wants evidence-based, programs and realistic discourse on the economy, work, institutions, and foreign policy.
The community wants “justice everywhere” and on the level of political and communal life in the country. Specific and legislative positions at a strategic cutting edge of politics are crucial.
Sources: Alexis Papachelas and