SYRIZA split creates new party

Greece will soon have a new leftist party – after four deputies of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) quit yesterday and said that they are seeking to soon set up their own grouping. The four lawmakers – Fotis Kouvelis, Nikos Tsoukalis, Thanasis Leventis and Grigoris Psarianos – officially announced at a meeting of SYRIZA’s parliamentary group, which is made up of 13 MPs, that they would from now on sit as independents in Parliament. Leventis also resigned as deputy parliamentary speaker. Their resignations came after the so-called «renewal wing» of Synaspismos, the largest group within SYRIZA, walked out of the party’s conference on Sunday ahead of Alexis Tsipras’s re-election as leader. The renewal wing, which is led by former Justice Minister Kouvelis, has been at odds with Tsipras for the last couple of years over the direction in which he has taken the party. Tsipras could not hide his disappointment yesterday. «During a period of crisis and heightening of social clashes, the issue is unity and not the fragmentation of the powers of the radical and reformist left,» he said. «We pleaded that this development, which negates the result of last October’s general election, should not take place but we were not heard.» The breakaway group is expected in the next few days to be at the forefront of the creation of a new leftist party, whose name is not yet known. A nationwide campaign to present the party to voters will also be conducted. Kouvelis rejected suggestions that other parties, especially PASOK, had been approached as possible partners in a coalition. However, the head of the Eco-Greens, Nikos Chrysogelos, suggested that his party would be interested in talking to the leftists.