Stefanos Kasselakis has put himself up for the running to become Greece’s first openly gay prime minister. Kasselakis was elected leader of the leftist Syriza Party on Sunday, 24 September this year, and hoped to be up in the race for prime minister for next year in 2024. The Syriza Party became popular in 2015 during Greece’s financial crises, before losing to the New Democracy Party in 2019, and again in 2023 (Politico, September 2023).
The new leader of the Syriza Party won by 56.69% and kept Greece’s political affairs on its toes against law-maker and former Labour minister, Effie Achtsioglou (Le Monde, September 2023).
Who Are the Syriza Party?
The Greek financial crisis was survived by the Syriza Party and another unlikely leader, Alex Tsipras, a student activist turned politician (The Guardian, September 2023). Many have been shocked as the majority believe Kasselakis is an outsider. The party is often compared to communists and Marxists due to its legacy of far-left-leaning policies.
Left-wing writer, Dimitri Psarras, reported on the election that the outcome was actually quite unexpected.
Psarras told the Guardian: “It’s as if Netflix has come in, taken over the party, and is now turning it into a serial […] People have no idea what his politics are about or whether he has a programme at all. Of course, they’re in shock” (The Guardian, September 2023).
Kasselakis remains optimistic for the next election, though, stating that:
“Greek people are ready to have a prime minister who is capable, incorruptible, unscathed, and happens to be gay” (Reuters, September 2023).
Kasselakis has come out of nowhere, it seems, in this political race, coming into the press and social media only 3 months previous to the election (The Greek Reporter, September 2023). The American-Greek entrepreneur and businessman has been married to nurse, Tyler McBeth, both settling into Athens in Kasselakis' race for prime ministership (The Guardian, September 2023).
It can only be guessed, at this point, how the people of Greece will put the new political rival, and his business and entrepreneurial skills, to the test. He has a year to prove himself worthy of the role of leader. Either way, this is also a win for the LGBTQ+ community of Greece, gaining more representation in the political field, with the current Prime Minister also stating in July that he hopes to finally legalise gay marriage.
The center-right-leaning Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has promised to bid for legalising same-sex marriage while he is still the leader. He stated in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Athens:
“Same-sex marriage will happen at some point and it’s part of our strategy, [...] Greek society is much more ready and mature” (Time, July 2023).
Since 2005, LGBTQ+ freedom has been getting stricter, with gay couples being granted the right to civil partnership in 2015, and still waiting for the right to marry (Global Citizen Solutions, July 2023).
With Kasselakis storming the political arena, who knows what this could mean? It is up to the people of Greece where things go from here.
Edited by: Anwen Venn
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