The Kasselakis effect

The Kasselakis effect

Stefanos Kasselakis has undoubtedly emerged as the most talked-about candidate in SYRIZA’s leadership election. He seemingly appeared out of nowhere and successfully injected excitement into what had been a rather dull and predictable debate about the successor to Alexis Tsipras, the former party leader and prime minister.

SYRIZA folk were undoubtedly surprised by the powerful entry of an outsider based in the United States, who appeared to come out of nowhere and aimed to seize control of the party, even though he wasn’t a party member. Instead of rejecting him and treating him as an intruder, many of them might find reasons to be grateful.

Kasselakis’ unexpected entry into the succession race thrust him into the center of public discourse and sparked broader interest. This was done in an unconventional manner, going against established party practices. However, without his presence, the entire process might have remained limited to behind-the-scenes battles among rival party factions, which have significantly diminished following SYRIZA’s severe defeat in the double elections earlier this year.

It wouldn’t be surprising if, at a later stage, he forms his own political party, as there is no one quite like him

The first round of voting next Sunday (the ballot was postponed a week due to the Daniel disaster) will determine the fate of the five candidates. It seems that Effie Achtsioglou, a former labor minister, has strong chances of advancing to the second round – unless she secures a victory in the first round, as some optimistic supporters suggest. From that point on, it will be a matter of determining who comes in second.

If Kasselakis manages to pull off a major surprise, the whole debate will immediately take a different direction. Of course, even if he manages to advance to the runoff, it does not guarantee that he will secure the party leadership – that would be nothing short of a political earthquake. Nevertheless, it will signify that his presence in the entire process resonated with a challenging and, in many ways, conservative audience.

However, was becoming the leader of SYRIZA Kasselakis’ true goal? He appears clever enough not to have unrealistic aspirations. So, what was his primary objective? He came to stay. He used the internal party elections as an opportunity to address a public tired of the existing political landscape, searching for something new, something that even SYRIZA appeared incapable of providing.

In reality, SYRIZA isn’t Kasselakis’ main focus. He simply seized the opportunity to connect with Greeks outside the party’s boundaries and establish his presence in upcoming developments. It wouldn’t be surprising if, at a later stage, he forms his own political party, as there is no one quite like him. After all, a healthy democratic system requires a second pole.

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