Contemporary Southeastern Europe
The 3rd Congress of SYRIZA in 2020: party change put into perspective
SYRIZA will organize its third Congress at the beginning of 2020. The outcome of the Congress is going to influence the future of SYRIZA as the party has to adjust to the new realities caused by recent developments such as its meteoric electoral rise since 2012 and the governmental experience between 2015 and 2019. SYRIZA is henceforth the second-biggest party in terms of electoral influence and parliamentary representation in Greece. Therefore, SYRIZA’s internal developments will affect more broadly the political competition and the Greek party system. This Congress will be a turning point in SYRIZA’s internal transformation after its loss of power in the July 2019 national elections. An electoral loss is generally considered as a catalyst for internal transformation. However, SYRIZA has been constantly evolving since the 2010 Greek crisis. Until 2013, SYRIZA was a coalition of different leftist parties and organizations. During this time, the first Congress of SYRIZA proceeded to unify the different organizations under a single party. The acquisition of power in 2015, the internal split in September 2015 (when the left wing quit the party), and the loss of power in July 2019 suggest a series of great internal modifications. This instability constantly affected the types of resources mobilized by SYRIZA into the political field, the profile of party elites, and the program and ideological identity of the party. Overall, SYRIZA remains a small party—in terms of organization and membership—whose social and local anchors are weak, despite its term in office between 2015 and 2019. From this point of view, the Congress is considered as an initiative to make the party more attractive to broader audiences and to extend SYRIZA’s social roots.