Stefanos Kasselakis, a Greek-American entrepreneur and former Goldman Sachs executive, has recently surprised the Greek political scene by winning the race for the leadership of Syriza, the country’s main opposition party. His unexpected rise has made him a prominent figure throughout the Greek nation, despite his lack of local political experience.
At just 35 years old, Kasselakis announced his candidacy only four weeks ago and secured 56.69% of the votes, surpassing Efi Achtsioglou, a former Minister of Labor who had long been considered the favorite, and who received only 43.31% of the votes.
Kasselakis’ entry into the race for Syriza’s leadership was accelerated by the resignation of Alexis Tsípras, who had led the party for 15 years. Tsípras made this decision following Syriza’s defeats in the general elections in May and June. During the election campaign, Tsípras remained neutral and did not support any of the candidates, despite Kasselakis’ surprising victory in the first round last week.
Kasselakis can revitalize Syriza
The participation in Syriza’s internal elections was impressive, with approximately 133,600 voters spread across 537 polling stations throughout the country. Syriza’s leaders see this as a signal of the desire for a strong and revitalized opposition party. Ready to oppose a government perceived as hostile to workers’ and social rights.
Kasselakis, whose connections with Syriza before this year remain unknown, moved to Athens just a few months ago, along with his American husband, Tyler McBeth, a nurse by profession. In his victory speech, Kasselakis warmly thanked McBeth, referring to him as “my personal family.”
The new leader of Syriza intends to bring significant changes to the party, a progressive alliance that includes Marxists, Eurocommunists, ecologists, and social democrats. Kasselakis proposes that the party adopt the model of a “big-tent” party, American-style, to regain power.
Among his political proposals is a “drastic” reduction in taxes for employees in both the public and private sectors, the separation of Church and State, judicial reforms, granting citizenship to the children of immigrants born and raised in Greece, and the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Kasselakis’ victory has shaken up the Greek political landscape and left the old guard of Syriza perplexed. Stelios Kouloglou, a Syriza Member of the European Parliament, stated, “This is the end of Syriza’s left as we knew it. Our new leader will have to prove himself up to the expectations and lead the party towards a successful future.” Kasselakis’ adaptation to his role as a political leader and his influence on Syriza’s future are subjects of great interest.