On Sunday, Greece voted against the Eurozone bailout package. But that wasn’t enough to stop Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis from resigning the next day. And Yanis is somewhat of a rock-star in Greece.
True to his signature style, Varoufakis announced his resignation in a blogpost and then departed from the Ministry of Finance on his BMW motorcycle with his wife behind him. He quit on Monday saying Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras felt it might “help achieve a deal” for the country.
In his blog post he wrote, “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; an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today.”
He went on to add, “And I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.”
Varoufakis was staunchly opposed to any restructuring of Greek debt and he had the extra bit of dramatic flair that helped build him a fan following. For instance in an interview to Bloomberg, he said that he would rather “cut off his arm than sign a new accord that doesn’t restructure Greece’s outstanding debt”.
Add to that the motorbike had become part of his signature style. It was Varoufakis’ regular mode of transportation fo who turned up to meetings on this as well. He was mostly spotted dressed in loose shirts, even leather jackets but never a tie or a suit like the rest of the team.
There’s even a Facebook fan page titled “V for Varoufakis” that has over 73,000 likes. The page name is a pun on the popular novel V for Vendetta where the character ‘V’ helps a dystopic and fascist Britain get back on the path of freedom and democracy.
While Greece’s V might have resigned, the page is reflection of the cult status he’s managed to build in his short span as a Finance minister. On the page, there’s a video of Varoufakis walking into the square with Greek protestors being welcomed and hugged by the crowd. It’s unlikely that any minister anywhere in the world will just walk in with a protesting crowd and expect that kind of response.
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But Varoufakis’ was not just another brash minister with style. An economic professor with a PhD in Economics from Birmingham, he has also taught the subject at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. From 2004 to 2006, he was the adviser to the earlier government of George Papandreou and then later became one of its biggest critics. He had quite a few economic books and papers published to his credit as well.
While he’s resigned now as Greece’s Finance Minister, his popularity will continue given how he’s remained a strong critic of the Eurozone’s tactics on Greece over the debt.
With Associated Press inputs