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"There is no other means by which to arrest the awful feedback between authoritarianism and failed economic policies," said former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis. (Photo: Reuters)

"There is no other means by which to arrest the awful feedback between authoritarianism and failed economic policies," said former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis. (Photo: Reuters)

Greece's Varoufakis to Launch Pan-European Progressive Movement

Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, or DiEM 25, is billed as an alternative to prevailing authoritarianism and austerity

Lauren McCauley

Hoping to show Europeans they have an alternative to the prevailing system of "authoritarianism" and austerity, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has announced a new cross-continent movement with a "simple, common agenda:" To democratize Europe.

The movement, known as the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (or DiEM 25), will be launched on February 9 at Berlin's Volksbühne theater.

Varoufakis, who first revealed the plan late last month in an interview with L'Espresso, said that he is hopeful this "activist movement" will connect progressives across the continent and enable them to take back power from the ruling elite and what he described as the "shadowy world of bureaucrats, bankers, and unelected officialdom."

"To counter this de-politicisation of political decision making, which reinforces the economic crisis and the crisis of legitimacy facing Europe, we need a movement that rises up throughout in Europe, at once, with the same agenda everywhere to re-politicize political decisions and to democratize the decision making process," he said in an interview with El Diario published on Saturday.

"There is no other means by which to arrest the awful feedback between authoritarianism and failed economic policies—a feedback that, left unchecked, will wreck Europe and help ultra-nationalism triumph," Varoufakis added, referring to the rise of ultra-right and fascist forces such as Greece's Golden Dawn party.

Varoufakis, who has been a fierce and vocal critic of austerity, stepped down from his post within the Syriza government this summer amid tense negotiations with EU creditors. 

The launch of the DiEM 25 movement comes amid a growing leftist surge across Europe. 2015 saw the rise of anti-austerity forces in both the United Kingdom, with the election of Jeremy Corbyn to Labour party leader, as well as in Spain, where the Podemos party gained enormous power.

According to the German socialist paper Neues Deutschland, Varoufakis will be appearing at the launch along with "some of his 'accomplices' from all over Europe," though the complete list of speakers has yet to be announced.

Varoufakis said that the while the exact organizational contours of the movement are still unknown, he is hopeful that the grassroots, cross-border structure will embolden and empower progressives across the continent.

"What makes me optimistic about a pan-European movement? That it will be pan-European!" he said.

"We shall exert pressure on every Parliament, every government, every head of state at once," Varoufakis continued. "That when the troika is squeezing, let’s say the Madrid government, it will know that the electoral process in, say, Germany or France or Portugal will punish any local politician who does the troika’s bidding."

"It is a truly utopian undertaking," he added.

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