Synaspismos rejects Tsipras call

Greece’s fourth largest parliamentary party appears to be plunging further into crisis after Synaspismos, the main party in the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), narrowly rejected a call by its leader Alexis Tsipras to hold an emergency conference to sort out leadership and policy issues. Tsipras made the proposal ahead of a meeting of Synaspismos’s central political committee on Saturday, when his idea was debated and voted on. However, the young politician failed to secure the majority necessary: 49 members of the committee voted in favor of holding the conference, 48 against but, crucially, six leftists cast blank ballot papers. It was the latest in a series of blows to Tsipras’s leadership of Synaspismos. Since the head of SYRIZA’s parliamentary group, Alekos Alavanos, gave 34-year-old Tsipras his break, allowing him to run as the party’s candidate for Athens mayor in 2006 and then backing him to take over at the helm of Synaspismos, the pair’s relationship has broken down. Tsipras’s radical leftist agenda that included a decision to appoint an anti-European candidate to head his party’s list in the June 7 Euro elections was a major factor in this. Since last year, the party’s opinion poll ratings have plummeted, particularly as a result of its equivocal stance during the December riots. In defending his suggestion that Synaspismos needed to hold a «clear the air» conference, Tsipras said that he had not heard a convincing alternative to his proposals. He said that if the meeting was not held, Synaspismos would instead be «holding a wake» after the next general election. Following his defeat in Saturday’s vote, Tsipras acknowledged his «deep political differences» with Alavanos and hinted for the first time at a possible split between Synaspismos and SYRIZA in the future. «I am not afraid of SYRIZA breaking up, I am afraid of dead ends,» he said.