When Alexis Tsipras determined to name an early Greek election within the hope that his Syriza occasion might nonetheless cling to energy, there was one individual the prime minister referred to as upon to attempt to convey some magic to his marketing campaign: a 34-year-old who has by no means been elected to parliament.
Effie Achtsioglou jumped to prominence three years in the past when Mr Tsipras promoted her to finalise sweeping reform of the state pension system agreed with Greece’s collectors, the EU and the IMF, as a part of the nation’s €86bn third bailout. As one among 4 ladies within the cupboard, the minister for employment and social safety has consolidated her status via measures to verify staff’ rights are protected, corresponding to reviving amassing bargaining agreements and cracking down on undeclared labour.
Now, because the chief spokesperson for Syriza’s marketing campaign for the polls on July 7, a lady who is just not even positive she sees her future in politics is assured of a seat in parliament. Ms Achtsioglou is carrying her occasion’s struggle to the opposition New Democracy occasion, insisting its regular lead in opinion polls, confirmed by European elections final month, can nonetheless be overcome.
“You must think about that folks vote fairly in a different way in a normal election from the European one, and very often they don’t trouble to vote,” she instructed the Monetary Occasions. “It’s not over till the fats woman sings — and that hasn’t occurred but.”
In response to two opinion polls revealed over the weekend, Syriza was trailing the conservatives by eight.5 share factors, down from 10.5 per cent the earlier week, however nonetheless a sufficiently big margin to present the centre-right New Democracy a slim general majority within the 300-member parliament.
Ms Achtsioglou and her political boss make one thing of an odd political couple, because the marketing campaign reveals. Mr Tsipras revels in holding flag-waving outside rallies, principally in historically leftwing constituencies the place many Syriza supporters abstained within the European election. Striving to hold on to the premiership he has held since 2015, he presents the voters’ alternative in stark phrases as “the distinction between mild and darkness”.
Ms Achtsioglou’s desire is to deal with smaller gatherings and she or he normally strikes a milder tone.
“I believe folks know their vote goes to find out their life for the approaching years, whether or not they select the trail to deeper financial and social inclusion that we’ve mapped our or the neoliberal one of many conservatives, which in our view led to the Greek disaster with all its penalties,” she mentioned.
I’m undecided that it’s good concept to depend on making your profession in politics . . . I’ve usually considered turning into a tutorial
The daughter of a lawyer and a paediatrician, Ms Achtsioglou grew up in a northern Greek city. She studied regulation at Thessaloniki college, specialising in commerce union and employment points, and opened a regulation workplace within the metropolis.
Having gone to Brussels as a European Parliament researcher to a Greek MEP, Georgios Katrougalos, she returned to Athens when he was named employment minister, turning into his chief of workers. There, she impressed each Mr Tsipras and Greece’s collectors sufficiently to be promoted to the cupboard when Mr Katrougalos went to a different function.
She has been a Syriza activist since she was a young person however says she “might by no means usually have anticipated to play such a giant function in authorities” and was not contemplating attempting to change into an MP. Now she is assured of a seat within the subsequent parliament as Syriza’s second-ranked candidate on the so-called “state checklist” of MPs elected as a proportion of the general nationwide vote.
She is usually talked about as a doable successor to Mr Tsipras as Syriza chief however shrugs off questions on her political ambitions.
“I’m undecided that it’s good concept to depend on making your profession in politics . . . I’ve usually considered turning into a tutorial,” she mentioned.
No matter that circumspection, she is wading into the election marketing campaign with relish. Final week she provoked a media storm — and stoked fears amongst pensioners, one among Syriza’s key constituencies — by claiming New Democracy authorities would attempt to privatise the state pension system, “elevating an unacceptable monetary dangers for each current and future pensioners”. New Democracy dismissed the declare.
When she grew to become a cupboard minister Ms Achtsioglou was dismissed by some as “a sure girl for the troika” — because the bailout screens from the fee, the IMF and the European Central Financial institution have been identified in Greece — as a result of they backed her appointment, which provided continuity at a crucial level within the strategy of reforming the pension system.
However since Greece emerged a 12 months in the past from the third bailout, she has rolled again controversial measures imposed by the collectors, such because the suspension of collective bargaining, which she contends “violated the EU treaties and mustn’t have been accepted by the earlier authorities”. Banking, transport and tourism sector unions have signed collective agreements with employers.
She has additionally received buddies amongst lower-paid staff by tightening supervision of the labour market, hiring extra inspectors and broadening checks to incorporate giant employers, together with resorts, grocery store chains and banks.
“We discovered that one of many nation’s greatest banking teams was making staff work unpaid extra time as part of its restructuring operations. We put a cease to it and fined them,” she mentioned.
The crackdown has additionally inspired hundreds of householders of small companies to register their staff for social safety to keep away from fines, she says.
“The massive drawback through the disaster was once undeclared work however now that the financial system is enhancing it’s underdeclared work — house owners claiming their workers are part-time staff when really they’re usually working full-time jobs.”