Greece: Who is Euclid Tsakalotos, the new Greek economic minister who has just replaced Varoufakis?

Some comments in the bourgeois media do not bode well for anyone looking for a class alternative to the austerity imposed on Greece by the Troika. (My emphasis in italics throughout.)

Standard Chartered Bank:

According to Demetrios Efstathiou of Standard Chartered Bank, “he is one of the most sensible figures in Syriza. His appointment increases the chances of a sensible negotiation and positive outcome.

COMMENT: When a banker talks of a “positive outcome” one is entitled to ask: positive for which class, the working class or the capitalists?

The BBC:

“Mr Tsakalotos insisted that the Syriza government was ‘fundamentally pro-Europe’ and that it wanted ‘a viable economic programme inside the euro’.”

COMMENT: “Pro-Europe” can only mean pro-capitalist Europe, which means trying what Varoufakis attempted to do, which is get the European institutions to reason, ignoring the fact that their reasoning is based on the logic of profit and no other.

The Guardian:

“At the eleventh hour, the Oxford-educated economist has emerged as Athens’ secret weapon, sounding every inch the man he was raised to be: a public school member of the British establishment. ‘It is rather surprising to the other side,’ he says, the Greek parliament framed in the window of his eighth floor office. “But so, too, is the fact that I understand their economic arguments.’ Phlegmatic, professorial, mild-mannered, Tsakalotos has spent the best part of 30 years in the ivory towers of Britain and Greece ‘engaging critically’ with neoclassical economic thinking."

COMMENT: Like Varoufakis he attempts to find a solution within the confines of capitalism, with no real perspective of socialist change.

Business Insider UK:

“Mujtaba Rahman of Eurasia Group [a political risk consultancy company] said… that Tsakalotos' better understanding of Syriza as a movement would be an asset: ‘Tsakalotos, unlike Varoufakis, is a respected Syriza party member with deep ties to the party. He will therefore know how to operate within the party framework and his appointment will be critical to bridge the gap between the difficult reforms the government will be forced to implement and the objections raised within Syriza as a deal gets closer.’

“Though Tsakalotos' politics seem, at least from the perspective of the Eurogroup, largely similar to his predecessor's, the Eurogroup may find him easier to deal with — it was Varoufakis' personal style that many found jarring. There have been no similar complaints about Tsakalotos, though Telegraph journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard calls him "more hardline." Neither are anti-euro, as some of Syriza's left are.”

COMMENT: “…to bridge the gap between the difficult reforms the government will be forced to implement and the objections raised within Syriza as a deal gets closer” – we shall see how that one pans out! “Difficult reforms” read: more austerity that the masses just voted against.  “…the objections raised within Syriza” read: how to steamroll through policies that the ranks of Syriza are opposed to. Wishful thinking on the part of our friends at Eurasia Group!

Tsakalotos is co-author of “Crucible of Resistance: Greece, the Eurozone and the World Economic Crisis”

In a review of this book on Amazon by (by Ioannis Glinavos, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Westminster) we read:

“The greatest contribution of the book (for me at least) is its explanation of the Syriza programme as regards Euro membership. The authors proclaim that staying within the Euro is part of a thought-through strategy of engagement with the European left, and they envisage alternative economic programmes within the European institutions, plus a deepening of democracy at the European level.”

COMMENT:  Again, no perspective of a struggle against the capitalist EU, but seeking to find a compromise within the system, which means respecting the laws that govern the “market economy” i.e. capitalism. It is impossible to reach an “honourable compromise” with the Troika which represents finance capital, which is hell-bent on imposing austerity in Greece and across the whole of Europe.

(Note: Tsakalotos is not part of the left wing of Syriza, the Left Platform, but belongs to a left grouping within the party’s Central Committee majority. This grouping has come out against breaking with the euro with the idea that this is a “nationalist” stance. And raises the idea of a wider European struggle within the EU.)