Tsipras hails ‘historic’ moment as he is elected leader of unified SYRIZA

Almost three quarters of the delegates at SYRIZA’s founding congress elected Alexis Tsipras as the party’s leader on Sunday after deciding to unite the coalition as one party and create a centralized decision-making process aimed at helping the leftists win the next elections.

Tsipras hailed the congress and his re-election at the helm of SYRIZA as a significant moment in Greek leftist politics.

“Three and a half thousand delegates from all over Greece have put their stamp on the birth of something new following an open and lively discussion,” said the 38-year-old, who received 74.08 percent of the vote. About 20 percent of delegates cast blank votes.

“We made a historic step, from tomorrow we set out on the road to victory more united and stronger than ever so we can stop the social destruction and rebuild Greece,” added Tsipras.

The party’s 200 central committee members were also elected on Sunday. A day earlier, Tsipras’s bid for the coalition to transform into a single party, behind an agreed charter and central decision-making structure was largely supported by more than 3,000 delegates at the congress.

However, opposition to the plan, which demands that SYRIZA’s factions are disbanded, met with some opposition, particularly Second World War veteran Manolis Glezos. The 90-year-old argued that SYRIZA’s strength lies in the fact that it is an amalgamation of forces and leftist voices and likened Tsipras’s demands to “slaying the horses that brought us from 3 percent of the vote to 27 percent.”

Delegates voted to give the four SYRIZA factions refusing to disband another three months to decide whether they would be dissolved.

The majority of delegates also dismissed a proposal from the Aristeri Platforma (Left Platform), led by MP Panayiotis Lafazanis, for the party to leave open the option of Greece returning to the drachma.

However, the party adopted as its official position the cancelling of Greece’s EU-IMF memorandum and the renegotiation of its loan agreement. It also intends to carry out an audit of Greece’s public debt with the aim of cancelling any part that is considered “odious”, or illegitimate.

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