The new head of SYRIZA, Stefanow Kasselakis, who was elected in the second round of intre-party elections for the party leadership, after former president Alexis Tsipras resigned has caused more than just a passing headache for the main opposition party.
Kasselakis who wasn't even a party member before the election, was placed on the party ballot for te national election during the past summer, when the party was soundly trashed. Kasselakis' inclusion was justified by Tsipras as he was seen as representing the Greek diaspora, as he was a long-time resident in the uS.
Kasselakis emerged as a self-styled maverick, flaunting his openly gay lifestyle, his American husband Tyler, and his professed self-made success in the field of ship ownership.
However, the story he chose to spin is full of holes. His father was not, as he claims, the victim of a nefarious extra-judicial plot, but was in favt found guilty of multiplt counts of defrauding suppliers for his nautical paint company, through which he supplied shipowners and even the Hellenic Navy.
The young, then Stefanos, and his mother, a dentist, moved to the US together, and he did not emigrate alone as he claims. According to our information for reasons not necessarily related to the economic downturn of Kasselakis perre. He graduated from the most exclusive Philips-Exeter Academy, which one leaves one wondering, how he managed this, as tuition is exorbitant, more so if one is destitute. He then went to Penn State, where coincidentally his mother was part of the staff, which he failed to mention.
In any event, despite his nebulous background, he tried to stay away from any political statements, and when cornered by reporters for a statement on Cyprus he committed a serious paux pas calling the occupied by Turkey part of Cyprus a "statelet" and "their part". Despite this utterance, which shocked the governments and the political world of Greece and Cyprus, he still managed to soundly defeat Efi Achtsioglou, a dedicated young SYRIZA cadre that served as minister in the Tsipras government, and was seen as the favorite in the run-up to the party elections.
Kasselakis, who was not elected deputy, and is therefore outside parliament, has been backed by the known firebrand MP (often accused of mud-slinging) Pavlos Polakis, former armed forces chief Evangelos Apostolakis, former convicted minister Nikos Pappas, Tsipras' cousin MP Giorgos Tsipras. Also there is talk that the following will be upgraded within the party in the very near future: Petros Pappas, Athena Linou, Hara Kafantari, Ralia Christidou, Andreas Panagiotopoulos, Elena Akrita, Tania Eleftheriadou, Thanos Moraitis, Eleni Avlonitou, Yiannis Bournos, George Karameros, Alexandros Meikopoulos, Rania Thraskia and Vassilis Kokkalis.
However, apart from Efi Achtsioglou, who declined any position under SYRIZA's new leader, the more radical left elements within the party see the new leader as a firecracker that has nothing in common with the party's left ideology. Euclid Tsakalotos, Nikos Fylis, and a host of cadres are waging a bitter fight against their new leader, more or less claiming that he is politically nonexistent, and has no understanding of Greece, the Greek people, or politics in general. Fylis went as far as to ascribe Trump-like characteristics to the new party head.
The next few days ahead of local government elections will see bitter infighting among the two sides, even though SYRIZA has never faired well in such bouts and is expected to lose by far. The next real challenge for the new party leadership will be the party congress, where the fight wiill be out in the open for the paty organs. In those circumstance, Kasselakis will not have the luxury of scirting tough political issues like the economy, inflation, civil protection, and others that are on the minds of citizens, but also of the party's political agenda.