Former Greek finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos, who navigated the country out of its debt crisis and EU bailouts, cut ties with his Syriza party Sunday, accusing its new leader of "Trumpism practices".
Syriza saw a leadership shake-up in September with a surprise win by Stefanos Kasselakis, a little-known former shipping executive and Goldman Sachs trader, whom senior party cadres accuse of seeking to turn the leftist party toward the centre-right.
Kasselakis received just over 56 percent of the votes cast by Syriza members, revealing deep divisions within Greece's leading opposition party, in crisis after two successive legislative elections in May and June.
On Saturday, Kasselakis called on the members of the party's central committee to expel four prominent party cadres who have been highly critical of him since his election.
He warned that if the central committee voted down the request, he would proceed with a referendum to push through with his decision.
On Sunday, Tsakalotos submitted a resignation letter co-signed by 44 other party members.
They accused Kasselakis of applying a "practice of Trumpism in a party that has established pluralism, freedom of dissent, democracy itself".
The letter went on to accuse Kasselakis of "persecution" of not just senior members but the left overall.
Syriza has been divided for many years, Kasselakis said Saturday during his address to the central committee, "but it didn't want to admit it".
The expulsion of some long-time members was not a "splitting" of the party, he added, "but the beginning of unity".
Earlier on Sunday, Stefanos Tzoumakas -- one of the four members Kasselakis sought to expel -- announced his departure from the party.
Others on the chopping block were former ministers Nikos Voutsis and Panos Skourletis, who both announced Friday they were leaving.
Nikos Fillis, also on Kasselakis's list, was among the signatories to quit alongside Tsakalotos.
"There are no longer expulsions. So we no longer have a reason for a referendum," Kasselakis said in response to the exodus.
He also demanded that sitting MPs Tsakalotos and Peti Perka, who also quit the party, hand over their seats.