Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party leader Alexis Tsipras, the man whose party is favored to win the next elections, rose to prominence in the early Nineties. Back then, he was a member of the Young Communists Society battling against the controversial law of Education Minister Vasilis Kontogiannopoulos as a student of Ampelokipoi Branch High School.
Interviewed by TV presenter Anna Panagiotarea, Mr. Tsipras was accused of being disingenuous in defending middle and high school students’ right to absenteeism without parental notification.
Since then, he has climbed the ranks of the left-wing movement. He was on the executive board of the students’ union of the Civil Engineering School of the National Technical University of Athens and was also a student representative on the University Senate. Despite the very clear radical, left-wing profile that he has maintained as Leader of the left Synaspismos (Coalition), he was a centrist during his period of leadership in Neolaia Synaspismos (Left Coalition Youth) following the Communist Party’s departure from Synaspismos. He managed quite efficiently to maintain a strong adherence to the policy of the party, effectively outvoicing political deviants to the left and the right. As Secretary of Synaspismos Youth, he took an active part in the process of creating the Greek Social Forum and attended all of the international protests and marches against neoliberal globalism.
He was elected Leader of Synaspismos during the 5th Congress on 10 February 2008, after the previous leader Alekos Alavanos decided not to stand due to personal reasons.
Mr. Tsipras’ political views are well-known, however, unlike other politicians he has shared very little of his personal life with the public. His partner is Peristera (Betty) Batziaka, a low-key electrical and computer engineer who met young Alexis when they were still at Ampelokipoi Branch High School. They were both members of the Communist Youth of Greece with lofty ideals of making the world a more equitable place. Ms. Batziaka has been described by the Greek media as “strong-willed, militant and dynamic” but publicity shy.
The couple’s leftist views explain why they chose to name their second son Ernesto as a tribute to Che Guevara. Mr. Tsipras and his partner have two sons but he rarely photographs himself with his family. The photo below was shot in the summer of 2012 at Rodakino, Crete, where Mr. Tsipras chose to spend his vacations at a frugal middle-class hotel rather than a luxury resort.
Mr. Tsipras and his high school sweetheart have been together for 20 years, but if Mr. Tsipras is elected as the country’s Prime Minister on Sunday, he will be the first unmarried Greek Prime Minister – a big change for a socially conservative country.