[Marxism] Tsakalotos: Greece's new lead EU negotiator is leftist
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Tue Apr 28 15:27:53 MDT 2015
Euclid Tsakalotos: from Oxford to Greece's lead bailout negotiator
by Helena Smith in Athens
The Guardian, April 28
Is this the man to replace Yanis Varoufakis as Greece's new finance minister?
by Mehreen Khan
The Telegraph, London April 28
Oxford-educated Euclid Tsakalotos will be taking the lead in Greece's
bail-out negotiations. But what do we know about the man set to become
the acceptable face of Greece's debt drama?
. . .
An Oxford-educated economist, Mr Tsakalotos has much in common with
the political elite of Westminster, studying politics, philosophy and
economics (PPE) as an undergraduate before completing his PhD in
economics at Oxford in 1989.
The 55-year-old, who was born in Rotterdam, currently serves as the
chief economic spokesman and effective shadow finance minister for the
Syriza-led government, in charge of international economic affairs.
Unlike Mr Varoufakis, Mr Tsakalotos is no party outsider. He has been
a member of Syriza for nearly a decade, serving as an MP in the Greek
parliament since 2012.
Like his fellow Leftist parliamentarians, Mr Tsakalotos's background
is as a jobbing Western academic rather than a professional
politician, having taught at the universities of Kent and Athens.
Described as the "brains behind Syriza's economic policy", he is the
author of six books, the most recent of which seeks to debunk the
causes of Greece's economic turmoil.
Published in 2012, Crucible of Resistance: Greece, the Eurozone and
the World Economic Crisis, argues that far from being an economic
laggard, Greece underwent two decades of neo-liberal modernisation
before the onset of the financial crisis in 2008. The result, he
argues, was a widening in social inequality and a gaping democratic
In a refrain that will be familiar to many of the single currency's
critics, the Marxist economist diagnoses Greece's ailments as not
simply the consequences of "an economic crisis" but a "crisis of
democracy" in the eurozone.
But far from advocating a "Grexit", as some of the more radical
elements within Syriza, Mr Tsakalotos argues Greece should maintains
is membership of the euro.
"A Greek road to socialism where you exit the euro and do your own
national strategy seems to be a straight re-run of Britain in the 70s
and France in the 80s," he told an audience last year
"The national roads seemed to have failed. We need an international
flavour to any alternatives."
In one of his most recent public speaking appearances, Mr Tsakalotos
addressed a conference of Sinn Fein's political delegates in March.
Receiving a rousing reception from leader Gerry Adams, the economist
proved he was not immune to rhetorical flourishes of his more famous
finance ministry counterpart.
"We are not asking for special treatment, but for equal treatment in a
Europe of equals," thumped Mr Tsakalotos in perfectly polished
His visit to Dublin was part of a wider policy for Athens' Leftists to
court the support of its fellow southern European partners.
"Syriza and Sinn Fein as well as Podemos are part of a great
realignment in European politics," he told republican supporters,
describing the Irish as "honourary southerners" in Greece's fight for
a more equitable monetary union.
Mr Tsakalotos is also no new new face at the negotiating table.
Although boasting a less inflammatory style than Mr Varoufakis, he has
accompanied the finance minister through most of Greece's protracted
negotiations over the past three months.
Whether or not his presence will now square the circle of Greece's
bail-out extension remains open to question, however.
The move to push the polarising Mr Varoufakis out of the spotlight has
certainly been cheered by markets, and will partially appease the
country's paymasters in Brussels.
However, the dethroning of Mr Varoufakis may prove to be a mere
Pyrrhic victory for the creditor powers and Syriza's opposition
parties. The chasm between the demands made by lenders and the
political promises of the Leftist government will have to be bridged
soon if a disorderly default is to be averted.
In the words of Greek journalist Nick Malkoutzis, whether it is Mr
Tsakalotos "delivering the bitter pill to Syriza or Mr Varoufakis,
makes little difference; they are not going to swallow it easily
either way" <http://www.macropolis.gr/?i=portal.en.the-agora.2466>
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