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As finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis was known for his passionate rejection of austerity politics. (Photo: Marc Lozano/flickr/cc)

Varoufakis Leads European Left to Reclaim Democracy from "Authoritarian Technocrats"

Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 seeks to find 'common solutions to common problems,' says former Greek finance minister

Nadia Prupis

Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Tuesday announced the launch of a pan-European progressive movement to "democratize" the continent and promote alternatives to austerity and authoritarianism.

Along with pro-democracy allies from across the continent, Varoufakis—known for his candid rejection of European Union austerity politics during Greece's financial crisis—chose to announce the "Democracy in Europe Movement 2025" (Diem25) at the historic Volksbuehne theater, which is known as a landmark in German leftist activism.

"We've chosen Berlin precisely because nothing can change in a progressive direction without the full participation of Germany in our European endeavors," he said during a press conference in the theater. "We want to strengthen democracy and prevent the EU's disintegration."

The movement, which will act as a social forum to share ideas on democratizing the continent, describes its immediate priorities in its online manifesto:

Our immediate priority is (A) full transparency in decision-making (e.g. live-streaming of European Council, Ecofin and Eurogroup meetings, full disclosure of trade negotiation documents, publication of ECB minutes etc.) and (B) the urgent redeployment of existing EU institutions in the pursuit of innovative policies that genuinely address the crises of debt, banking, inadequate investment, rising poverty and migration.

Our medium-term goal, once Europe’s various crises have been stabilised, is to convene a constitutional assembly where Europeans will deliberate on how to bring forth, by 2025, a full-fledged European democracy, featuring a sovereign Parliament that respects national self-determination and sharing power with national Parliaments, regional assemblies and municipal councils.

Varoufakis first revealed plans to establish the movement late last year, and said in January that he hoped it would enable progressives throughout Europe to take back power from what he described as a "shadowy world of bureaucrats, bankers, and unelected officialdom."

"A political movement that starts everywhere in Europe at once, across borders, independently of prior political party affiliations, that has one simple objective: to get Europeans around a metaphorical table, digital table, in forums like this one tonight, to discuss as Europeans their common problems and what we want are common solutions to these common problems to be," he said Tuesday.

In its manifesto, Diem25 criticized the EU's "opaque decision-making process" which prevents Europeans "from exercising democratic control over their money, finance, working conditions and environment."

Varoufakis left his position within the Syriza government last July amid dramatic negotiations with EU creditors, refusing to accept a third financial aid package that came along with rigid austerity terms.

On Tuesday, he told reporters that Europe was being controlled by "authoritarian technocrats."

The Diem25 manifesto continues:

Our goal to democratize Europe is terribly urgent, for without a swift start it may be impossible to chisel away at the institutionalized resistance in good time, before Europe goes past the point of no return. We give it a decade, by 2025.

If we fail to democratize Europe within, at most, a decade; if Europe’s autocratic powers succeed in stifling democratization, then the EU will crumble under its hubris, it will splinter, and its fall will cause untold hardship everywhere – not just in Europe.

A day before the initiative launched, Varoufakis joined Portuguese leftist presidential candidate Marisa Matias, Polish political critic Sławomir Sierakowski, and Italian trade union Fiom Cgil Nazionale international representative Valentina Orazzini for a discussion of economic and democratic alternatives in Europe. Watch below:


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