Much ado over Stefanos Kasselakis

Much ado over Stefanos Kasselakis

The sudden emergence of Stefanos Kasselakis as a contender in SYRIZA’s upcoming leadership election has ignited a spectrum of reactions. Some speculate that he has been brought in from the US to infuse SYRIZA with Atlanticism, while others insinuate that he’s been groomed by Goldman Sachs to undermine the Left from within. There’s even a claim that he shares a TikTok connection with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Critics within SYRIZA are accusing him of sidelining politics in favor of PR stunts, disregarding party structures and collective processes, adopting tactics from political rivals, conforming to the norms of mainstream media, and maintaining a lightweight approach.

The more open-minded are unconvinced by the depth of his political approach, and skeptics are uneasy about his economic and professional achievements, his cosmopolitan background, and his impressive resume boasting education at foreign universities, his volunteer work in Joe Biden’s administration, and his base in Miami.

One narrative suggests that he was introduced to former prime minister Alexis Tsipras by Pavlos Polakis, the former alternate health minister, while another contends the opposite, portraying him as a Trojan horse representing the “deep state” in Washington and capitalist interests aimed at preventing the Greek Left from regaining power.

In anti-SYRIZA circles, curiosity and a certain discomfort prevail. Where the leadership campaign had been perceived as lackluster and hence innocuous, a central figure has emerged who commands attention and captures the public’s imagination. He is young, attractive, affluent, self-made, of Greek descent, multilingual, openly gay, an advocate for animal rights, and soon-to-be father. His beaming smile, eloquence, ease on television, photogenic presence, and adaptability on social media have all contributed to the buzz generated by Kasselakis’ appearance on the political scene.

Does he have a political future? The answer hangs in the balance and will hinge on his stance concerning critical dilemmas that will confront SYRIZA

The commotion stirred by Kasselakis’ entrance onto the political stage was unavoidable. His fellow party members feel threatened by his distinctiveness, while the opposition has grown accustomed to the predictability of the main opposition’s navel-gazing. Conversations within SYRIZA have recognized that he’s taken the spotlight, potentially bolstering grassroots engagement in the leadership election process.

As for inquiries into his connections with Tsipras and the one-time pro-Tsipras contingent within the party, as well as his internal alliances and rivalries, definitive conclusions remain elusive. Moreover, all attempts to uncover hidden backers and patrons have proven fruitless.

If Kasselakis possesses a sense of humor, which seems likely, he must be greatly amused. If not, he might be taken aback by the magnitude of both the foolishness and malice that have colored discussions regarding his political positions and intentions.

Does he have a political future? The answer hangs in the balance and will hinge on his stance concerning critical (political, geopolitical, ethical) dilemmas that will confront SYRIZA. It will also depend on his resilience, ambition, capacity to heed the subtle currents of history, and ability to discern the trivial from the monumental.

Certainly, though, he has already etched out a political past, accomplishing this feat within a matter of days. This indicates that SYRIZA needs him more than he needs the party.

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