Alavanos to stay at SYRIZA helm

The leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left’s (SYRIZA) parliamentary group, Alekos Alavanos, has rescinded his decision to quit the party, temporarily alleviating fears that the leftists would disintegrate, although serious internal divisions remain. In a meeting of the political secretariat of Synaspismos Left Coalition, the main group within SYRIZA, on Monday evening, Alavanos announced he would not be stepping down, despite insisting last week that he had decided to leave after SYRIZA garnered less than 5 percent in the European Parliament elections on June 7. Alavanos had also aimed thinly veiled criticism at Alexis Tsipras, the 34-year-old who succeeded him as Synaspismos leader, over a difference in opinion about the party’s policies. It had been feared that Alavanos’s resignation would trigger further infighting within SYRIZA but his decision to stay may not guarantee long-term stability either. Alavanos said he would stay with the aim of helping the party recover its direction in the runup to the party conference in September, suggesting that there will be further run-ins with Tsipras until then. «Most of the blame for everything that happened between [the general election of] September 2007 and June 2009 and which led to SYRIZA’s defeat in the Euro elections belongs to the head of the parliamentary group,» he said. «I fully accept that blame.» Alavanos also suggested that Synaspismos, and therefore Tsipras, had too much power within the SYRIZA coalition, which was taken as another sign that there will be a power struggle within the party. Tsipras welcomed Alavanos’s decision to stay but indicated that the latter’s actions after the June 7 election had damaged the party. «We did not have such a catastrophic result that justifies such catastrophic management of the situation as that we have adopted so far.»