In a move seen as a precursor to an imminent cabinet reshuffle and an effort by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to revamp the ruling leftist party, influential Interior Minister Panos Skourletis was appointed on Monday as SYRIZA’s new central committee general secretary.
Addressing SYRIZA’s central committee on Monday, Tsipras said “we need a strong party, united and open to society,” as 2019 will be a “year of great battles.”
“The end of the memorandum marks the end of a political cycle for SYRIZA,” the leftist premier said, adding that the party must adapt to the times and seek to build stronger alliances with the party base.
In a clear message to dissenters within the party, Tsipras took a swipe at those who put their “personal strategies” above the party. SYRIZA, he added, faces the task of “stabilizing” the political change it has ushered and leaving “behind forever the political forces of bankruptcy.”
Referring to national elections, which he dubbed the “mother of all battles,” Tsipras said it is imperative for the party to rally “all those who do not accept a return of old the regime to power.”
With the government struggling in public opinion polls, Tsipras has sought to present Greece’s bailout exit as a springboard to a new and better era for the country. With this in mind, he outlined the proposals his government plans to present on September 8 at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), including a rise in the minimum wage and tax relief.
The prime minister also defended his government’s foreign policy, despite the “temporary” political cost. More specifically, he described the name deal with Skopje in June as “historic,” and said that the release of the two Greek soldiers by Turkey earlier this month was the result of coordinated efforts on the political and diplomatic levels.
However, his remarks drew a scornful response from opposition conservatives who called him “unrepentant” and his speech “divisive.”
“Mr Tsipras is probably the last Greek who only sees successes in his government since January 2015,” said New Democracy spokesperson Maria Spiraki, adding that he “refused once again to take any responsibility for anything.”
Referring to the government reshuffle and the changes within SYRIZA, Spiraki said that no matter who is brought in, “Tsipras can no longer convince anyone.”