'There is something abnormally pathetic about the spectacle of the forced resignation of Greek finance minister'by James Bone / July 6, 2015 / Leave a comment
In the endlessly sad saga of Greece’s negotiations with the eurozone, there is something abnormally pathetic about the spectacle of the forced resignation of Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.
Politicians are meant to resign the day after they are defeated. Just ask Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage (ok, don’t ask Nigel Farage.)
Varoufakis himself had promised to step down if the Greek public voted to accept a bailout package that he found so unacceptable that he said he cut his arm off rather than sign it.
Instead, he is resigning a day after Greek voters resoundingly backed his position that the offered bailout was essentially a fraud, or, in EU parlance, “extend-and-pretend.”
Varoufakis announced his sudden departure on his blog yanisvaroufakis.eu. You have to wonder whether he will be changing his internet domain now to yanisvaroufakis.com, which remains for sale.
Varoufakis explained: “Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my… ‘absence’ from its meetings.”
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who enlisted Varoufakis although he was not a Syriza member, decided to offer him as a token sacrifice.
This is truly a monumental embarrassment for other finance ministers.
Stuck in a failed policy that has seen Greece’s GDP plummet 31 per cent since 2008, and 27 per cent since the first bailout in 2010, Varoufakis’s former eurozone counterparts do not want to be confronted with their own failure.
They cannot face the combative and clever academic economic who makes a thoroughgoing critique of the eurozone’s own structural flaws (forget Greece’s for a moment)—and argues his own country went bankrupt in 2010.
A glimpse of the discomfort of this eurozone group came in Varoufakis’s last meeting with his peers.
Read more on Greece:
It’s in Britain’s interests for Greece to stay in the eurozone, says Nick Carn
How Greece became Europe’s fault line
The Greek referendum is a corruption of democracy, says Peter Kellner
What happens when a country defaults
According to a reconstruction by the New York Times, Varoufakis challenged IMF director-general Christine Lagarde across the table:
“I have a question for Christine,” he said. “Can the…