Less than a week into his new job, Greece’s finance minister is already performing the kolotoumbes, or policy somersaults, anticipated by several Athens commentators.
Yanis Varoufakis, an eloquent economics professor, has removed a key plank of the leftwing Syriza party’s pre-election platform: its longstanding demand that creditors should write off at least one-third of Greece’s huge public debt, which last year amounted to 175 per cent of national output.
Visiting London on Monday, the second stop of a tour of European capitals, Mr Varoufakis told the Financial Times that Athens would restructure its entire public debt by swapping bailout loans for new growth-linked bonds and issuing what he called “perpetual” bonds to replace Greek bonds owned by the European central bank.
The U-turn on the debt issue was so abrupt that some observers wondered whether Mr Varoufakis went off-message as he tried to reassure Greece’s eurozone partners and City investors that the Syriza-led government was serious about meeting its obligations to the EU and International Monetary Fund. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
Syriza have won the Greek election. But, perhaps just as startling, the “far left” party is making considerable headway in the struggle to win over elite opinion in the west.
Will the Greek election reignite the eurozone crisis?
Snap elections are being held in Greece later this month in which the radical left Syriza party is expected to come out on top. Gideon Rachman is joined by Kerin Hope, Athens correspondent, and Tony Barber, Europe Editor, to discuss the implications for Greek debt restructuring and the eurozone.
A family beg on a street on in Athens, June 13, 2012. Oli Scarff/Getty Images
On Sunday, Greeks will go to the polls for the second time in two months. The inconclusive election of May 6, in which no single party gained more than 20 per cent of the vote, reflected the views of an electorate deeply disillusioned with the two political parties that had taken turns to govern Greece since the end of military dictatorship in 1974 – New Democracy on the centre-right, and Pasok on the centre-left.
The far-left Syriza coalition, led by a young firebrand called Alexis Tsipras, surged into second-place, striking fear into the heart of Brussels with a promise to challenge the consensus that Greece had to stick to stringent austerity in order to please its European paymasters.
Billed as the election that could decide Greece’s fate in the eurozone, voters face an almost impossible choice this weekend – between the parties of an old, inept political order, and something new but untested. Here is some of the best news, analysis and comment on the subject from the FT and elsewhere: Read more