ATHENS – After slipping to second in the race to be the new leader of the major opposition SYRIZA, former labor minister Effie Achtsioglou ripped frontrunner Stefanos Kasselakis for not debating her and being an inexperienced image.
Kasselakis, 35, emerged from nowhere to win a first round of elections in beating four challengers, including Achtsioglou, 38, who has to make up a near 9 percent difference and belittled his being a newcomer to the party and politics.
She told Kokkino radio that Kasselakis – who had praised Mitsotakis before saying he could beat him – wouldn’t stand a chance in an election head-on with the Prime Minister, but that she could.
Kasselakis, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a shipping owner whose ties to Capitalism are at odds with the party’s alleged principles, showed up late to the race and wasn’t even on the ballot for Parliament in June polls.
But his social media presence as an openly gay candidate in public with his partner and slick skills have captured the attention of SYRIZA voters in the wake of former leader Alexis Tsipras resigning after being pounded in the elections.
Kasselakis and Achtsioglou will face off in the second round on Sept. 24, the winner left to pick up the pieces of a shattered party that went from winning in 2015 with 149 seats in Parliament to having only 47 now, its popularity halved.
Achtsioglou tried to position herself as better to not only lead the party but take it back to victory in the next elections saying that Kasselakis can’t “because he has no plan and political experience.”
She said that Kasselakis’ political proposals “has not been made clear,” as he has concentrated instead on presenting an image of himself instead of what pragmatic goals could be offered to voters to bring them back.
“For this reason, I asked for a debate, on friendly terms, so that the distinct political plans can be developed. Unfortunately, the proposal was not accepted by my co-candidate, although there is a big question mark as to his political plan, because he has not presented it,” said Achtsioglou.
She said his rhetoric “was limited to some slogans in the past, which are necessary in politics” but that this was not enough. “For example, when he says, ‘I will change everything,’ what does he mean?” He hasn’t said.
Tsipras, who, like other former premiers has faded into the background after making his party politically irrelevant, is staying out of the question about who his successor will be.