Meet Euclid Tsakalotos: Greece’s New Finance Minister

July 7, 2015 0 Comments

Yesterday, I wrote an update that Yanis Varoufakis has resigned after the results of the referendum that took place, which resulted in an overwhelming vote for ‘No’ against cuts to pensions and VAT increases. As written by Varoufakis, he resigned to ‘aid the deal,’ hoping that negotiations would go more smoothly.

From there, it was anyone’s guess who would become the new Finance Minister, but it was already assumed that the role would go to an already familiar face: Greece’s bailout negotiator Euclid Tsakalotos.

 

Euclid Tsakalotos

Without turning this too much into a biography, Tsakalotos is an Oxford-educated (1989) economist and is also an alumni in the St. Paul’s school, where much of the political elite in London have also attended. He studied Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at Oxford. He also served as the chief economic spokesman and effective shadow finance minister for the Syriza party.

When the Syriza led party won the election, and Alex Tsipras became Prime Minister, it was assumed that Tsakalotos would be Tsipras’ first pick as Finance Minister. However, Tsakalotos took up the role of Alternative Foreign Minister, which seems to have a large involvement in economic affairs.

More recently, Tsakalotos took on more responsibility for Greece’s negotiations with the country’s creditors. This was seen as a move that sidelined Varoufakis, as his negotiation tactics and personal style has made him increasingly difficult to work with, colleagues and opponents alike.

Tsakalotos Policies

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Tsakalotos is about as far from a British Conservative as one could be in European politics. Unlike Varoufakis, Tsakalotos is a member of the Syriza party with deep political ties. He has written plenty of books about the situation in Greece. The most recent one sought to debunk the causes of Greece’s economic situation.

He has been described as the “brains behind Syria’s economic policy. In 2012, he published Crucible of Resistance: Greece, the Eurozone and the World Economic Crisis. In it, he argues that Greece has gone two decades of neoliberal modernization before the financial crisis of 2008 set in. As a result, he argues, was a widening in social inequality and a gaping democratic deficit.

So, Tsakalotos could actually be considered a communist, which is what I’m going with. This is considering Tsakalotos is heavily involved in Syriza, a radical far left socialist part, the fact that he joined the student wing of the Communist Party (Greece) while attending Oxford, and the fact that his economic school of thought isn’t listed anywhere. So yeah, he’s a communist.

Although, I don’t think his ideology will do too much to damage the negotiations (no more than his predecessor). He has actually be described as one of the more sensible members in the Syriza party. So perhaps all parties will be able to get things done with Varoufakis out of the picture. However, judging from the news that has surfaced within the last couple of hours, it doesn’t look like Eurogroup creditors are willing to change their minds much.

Mr. Tsakalotos has an incredible challenge ahead of him. He’s going to need all the luck in the world to pull this off…

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