Things fall apart; SYRIZA cannot hold

Left-wing faction breaks away from SYRIZA

Nov. 12, 2023

“Umbrella,” the left-wing faction of the main opposition SYRIZA party, led by former Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, has officially announced it has quit the party.

The moved capped several weeks of tension between members of the faction and newly-elected SYRIZA leader Stefanos Kasselakis, whom Umbrella accused of ditching the party’s leftist ideology for a vague sort of social media-driven “post-politics” centered around the idea of a charismatic leader who, in Kasselakis’ words, “connects directly with the people” and sidesteps party structures.

The break had been made almost inevitable by Kasselakis’ decision to ask for the expulsion of three “Umbrella” members, all former ministers, with two of them – Panos Skourletis and Dimitris Vitsas – also having served as party secretaries. The third member, former Education Minister Nikos Filis, had said Kasselakis behaved more like Bepe Grillo, the Italian comedian who founded a political party, and former US President Donald Trump than a left-wing politician.

Kasselakis, made aware that his proposal might not be approved by either the party’s Disciplinary Commission or its Central Committee, proposed on the eve of a Central Committee meeting, that the expulsion be approved by the party base. This was criticized even by several of his supporters within the party and made certain that the Central Committee’s meeting on Saturday became a tumultuous affair.

In a statement released Sunday afternoon confirming they are quitting the party Umbrella accuses Kasselakis and his acolytes with “Trumpian practices…right-leaning populism, shouts, fanaticism, [and] hatred for…the left’s historical trajectory.”

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“We feel our historic responsibility. We insist [on being on the] left and our vision is a socialism with liberty and democracy,” the “Umbrella” statement says.

The 45 signatures, besides Tsakalotos, Vitsas, Skourletis and Filis, include former Parliamer Minister Nikos Voutsis, Health Minister Andreas Xanthos and Shipping Minister Theodoros Dritsas.

The “Umbrella”’s next moves could include forming a new party. A lot will hinge on how many SYRIZA supporters will follow them on their venture.

A fourth SYRIZA official targeted for expulsion by Kasselakis, Stefanos Tzoumakas, announced earlier Sunday he is quitting the party.

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