The hopes for Greece’s major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, 38, to put all the disparate forces in the party unified under his control were dashed at the group’s congress when World War II hero Manolis Glezos, 90, rejected the idea and assailed his own leader’s attempt, in a fiery speech.
Glezos, who with his friend, the late Apostolos Santas, took down the Nazi flag from the Acropolis in 1941 and replaced it with the Greek flag, opposed Tsipras’s plans for the party’s factions to be disbanded and for Tsipras to take complete control of the leftist group, a slight that could undermine the party’s head to show he is a leader.
Glezos argued that SYRIZA’s notable rise over recent years was a product of its openness and polyphony. He said that forcing members of the various groups that make up the coalition to unite behind one leader and one set of ideas would be a mistake.
“It must be understood that the forces that came together to form SYRIZA and brought it this far are the guarantors of its transition,” Glezos told an audience of more than 3,000 delegates. The party is a loose collection of Communists, Anarchists, Leftists, Maoists, Trotskyites, ecologists and other philosophies.
Glezos leads his own faction, Energi Polites (Active Citizens), and insisted he would not vote to scrap it. He also proposed that SYRIZA be led by a three-member committee rather than one person. While is stance was seen as unlikely to cut into Tsipras’ power base it nonetheless showed how fractured SYRIZA is.
Another MP opposed to Tsipras’s plan, Panayiotis Lafazanis, is due to speak on July 12. He heads another faction, the Aristeri Platforma (Left Platform), which wants SYRIZA to maintain the option of Greece leaving the euro.