Over the last several years, much has happened in and to Greece. Most of the things have been bailouts, or talks about bailouts, or talks about talks about bailouts. All of them have lacked panache, a certain leather-jacketed, untucked-shirted style coupled with a radical economist’s belligerence and threats of self-harm. Simply put, Greece has had far too little Yanis Varoufakis since his short tenure as the country's finance minister came to an unceremonious end almost three years ago.
Yanis Varoufakis agrees that he’s what’s been lacking in Greek politics. And so he’d like to invite his fellow countrymen to watch him motorcycle circles around Angela Merkel or anyone else who suggests that Greece should pay the debt that everyone knows it can’t.
If elected, he told the gathering of around 300 people, he will run looser budgets. Greek banks will be revived with public money. He will swap Greece’s bonds for new ones whose payments depend on economic growth. These and other policies to end Greece’s “debt colony status” will be implemented on day one, he said….
His party is called the European Realistic Disobedience Front. His refrain is that Europe’s establishment is unrealistic, not him. “When they start sending orders, they will receive strong disobedience,” he said. “They will have to bear the cost of defenestrating us from the euro, or accept our policies,” he said to warm applause.
We could not be happier about Varoufakis’ return to the political arena as his former party, those sellouts in Syriza, seems destined for a drubbing next year. We would very much like to see what “realistic disobedience” looks like in practice. Unfortunately, Yanis’ folk-hero status has not held up as well with the Hellenes as it has beyond the borders of that benighted country.
In Greece, however, he struggles to command wider respect these days. Many ordinary Greeks view his confrontational tactics as a costly failure. They hope for a gradual return to economic stability, not another fight with Europe.