ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called on Syriza members on Saturday to overcome “the ills of the past” and broaden its support base in a bid to bolster his party.
Syriza was significantly weakened in the summer, when lawmakers from its far-left faction broke away in protest at Tsipras accepting a third bailout attached to tough austerity measures he had once vowed to tear up.
Despite this U-turn Tsipras was re-elected on Sept. 20, this time with a mandate to implement the 86-billion euro program and thanks to the votes of both to the left and right of center.
“In order to achieve its political targets, our party needs to change,” Tsipras told the party’s central committee, which convened for the first time since the election.
“Having a party operate within a party is over,” he said.Tsipras said the party should immediately begin with “reconstructing” Syriza’s member organizations and campaigning to register new members ahead of a party congress in February, later than initially expected.
He said the party should be open to people “who believe in Syriza, regardless of whether they were supporters of the (center) Pasok or (center) New Democracy for decades.”
Some Syriza members are worried that such change may hinder the party’s plans to fight corruption and reform the state and may overshadow its leftist values.
But Tsipras reiterated that cracking down on corruption and mitigating the impact of austerity for the poorest were among the government’s priorities and said he wanted the party to act as a guarantor that its program would be implemented.
“Syriza must act like the sleepless leftist consciousness of the government,” he said.
Reporting by Renee Maltezou, editing by David Evans