The Greek Parliament has decided to suspend its workings for a week on Monday following the death of socialist leader Fofi Gennimata earlier in the day.
It was the “smallest tribute” the House can pay to the president of center-left Movement for Change (KINAL), parliament speaker Konstantinos Tassoulas said.
In addition, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared a day of national mourning for Wednesday when her funeral is expected to take place in Athens. The PASOK and Movement for Change (KINAL) leader will lie in state at Athens Cathedral (Mitropoli) as of 10:00 AM on Wednesday. The KINAL party said its leader’s funeral service will be held at Athens Cathedral at 2:00 PM on Wednesday, and the burial will take place at the First Cemetery of Athens.
In a written statement following the announcement of the 57-year-old’s death after a long battle with breast cancer, Mitsotakis hailed Gennimata as a “symbol of courage for all women, but also for men being tested by serious illnesses.
“I bid her farewell with respect, but also overwhelmed by the thoughts provoked by her unjust and untimely death,” he said, as he was returning from a trip to Saudi Arabia, which he cut short at news of her death.
“She was a fighter for life, battling with dignity the challenges to her health and the enemy that hit her family,” he said in reference to the fact that her father, Georgios Gennimatas, one of the founding members of the PASOK socialist party that later became a part of KINAL, also died of cancer.
“Today we say goodbye to Fofi Gennimata with deep emotion. A brave woman who fought all the battles of her life with dignity,” said President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Twitter.
“She served her principles in public life with political ethos and a kindness of soul that we will all miss,” she added.
Leaders from Greece and abroad on Fofi Gennimata’s death
The news of Gennimata’s death “has shocked us all,” government spokesperson Yiannis Oikonomou said. “She was a great woman with faith in democracy; a woman who fought bravely for her values and beliefs.”
The leader of Greece’s main opposition party, leftist SYRIZA, described Gennimata’s death as an “impoverishment of the country’s political life.” She “battled for life until the very end with determination and dignity,” former PM Alexis Tsipras said.
“I express my deep sorrow for the loss of Fofi Gennimata, leader of KINAL, to whom I say goodbye with great respect for her honesty, but also for the bravery with which she gave the battle for life,” said the secretary general of the Greek Communist Party (KKE), Dimitris Koutsoumbas.
MeRA25 chief Yannis Varoufakis said her death “deprives us of a person who could not be spared in Parliament, a woman who put the brakes on the male domination of the political stage.”
The Party of European Socialists expressed “deepest condolences to the family, friends and comrades” of Movement for Change (KINAL) party leader Fofi Gennimata,” in a statement on Monday.
In the statement, PES President Sergei Stanishev described Gennimata as “a committed European who fought tirelessly for a fairer Greece, and who always took an active role in guiding the future of socialism and social democracy in Europe. Her insight and leadership will be sadly missed by the PES. Her legacy will not be forgotten.”
It was also noted that Gennimata was elected President of PES-member Greek party PASOK in 2015, and president of Movement for Change KINAL in 2017.
Gennimata, a dominant figure of the center-left in Greece
Gennimata, the daughter of Greek politician Giorgos Gennimatas, who was credited for establishing the Greek public health system during the government of PASOK in the 1980’s, was a well-respected figure in the politics of the country.
In the last national elections of July 2019, the KINAL alliance took 8.1 percent of the vote, electing 22 MPs. It’s currently the third-largest Parliamentary group in Greece.
Through her leadership KINAL was trying to expand its electoral base and promote itself as the realistic alternative to the conservative administration of Mitsotakis.
The 57-year-old politician had been president of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) since 2015. Since 2017, she serves as the president of the Movement for Change, a coalition of center-left parties formed around PASOK.
PASOK is the historic center-left party that governed Greece for more than 25 years after its foundation in 1974.