Greece’s finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, resigned on Monday – less than a day after the referendum on a new Greek bailout plan failed. Varoufakis was an avid supporter of the ‘No’ vote which won with over 60% of the final tally yesterday.
“I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants . . . for my . . . ‘absence’ from its meetings”, wrote Varoufakis in a blog post earlier in the day. “The Prime Minister judged (my resignation) to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement (with creditors).”
Varoufakis was appointed to the finance ministry by Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras after the left-wing Syriza party won Greece’s parliamentary election in January. One of the main pillars of the Syriza political platform was an anti-austerity policy. The goal was to undo measures like pension reform that were taken by the former ‘center-right’ majority party in order to secure loans from the IMF, and European banks and governments.
However charismatic, the now former Greek finance minister was known for both his vocally and fashionably loud style. The flashy and at times attention-seeking manner of Varoufakis put him at odds with other, more traditional European government officials who were often present at debt negotiation meetings.
Despite his exit from the public stage today, Varoufakis reiterated his support for the people’s vote on Sunday which he proclaimed, “delivered a resounding call for a mutually beneficial agreement between Greece and our European partners . . . our NO is a majestic, big YES to a democratic Europe.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will meet later today in Paris to plan their next step in concert. Tomorrow, a larger meeting of 19 European leaders representing members of the European Central Bank will take place to determine further bailout options for Greece.[CNN]