Yannis Varoufakis is known as the stubborn Greek finance minister who tried to fight austerity measures that Brussels imposed on Greece in exchange for billions of Euros in bailout money. That didn't work, and the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, replaced him.
And now Varoufakis is organizing the grass roots and form a pan-European movement. He appears on TV on a daily basis in various European countries:
“It is time that we bring in the people that are sitting, as we speak, on their couch watching somebody else's show, trying to forget their anxieties, their fears, the fact that they may not have a job tomorrow or not enough money to pay the rent or the electricity bill,” Varoufakis said speaking on one of the many TV appearances he made at the eve of the launch of DiEM25.
“These are the people that we need trough coalescing together the different movements. Utilizing the fact that almost everybody knows that there's something rotten in the heart of the European Union at the moment.”
Varoufakis wrote DiEM25’s Manifesto for Democratizing Europe, a six-page statement where he blames the Brussels bureaucracy for almost all the problems Europe faces, its lack of transparency, bankrupt bankers, lying political parties; media tycoons controlling the press and big corporations that manipulate public will.
Ultimately, it says, European citizens have only one choice: to retreat into the cocoon of the nation state or to surrender to what he calls the "Brussels Democracy-free zone."
“We indeed have at the moment certain tendencies, especially in Northern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe and Great Britain that see a retreat to national politics, a retreat to the nation.” says Wolfgang Renzsch, a political scientist with Magdeburg University.
“That is a dangerous development and we have to do something about that,” he says.
But Renzsch does not agree with Varoufakis’ notion of a “democracy free-zone” in Brussels.
“Brussels has a democratic legitimacy,” he says. I don't believe in the democratic deficit. We have a democratic legitimization, there is the European parliament, we have an indirect legitimation with the council, and we have democratically elected governments of the member states. Brussels is, compared to the member states comparatively open.”
Varoufakis launched his new movement, the DiEM 25 in Berlin, and not in his native Greece. “He is a disgrace with his actions,” fumes Anthony Papadimitriou, a lawyer in Athens.
“He has disgraced himself during his term of office. He had his own plans. But now he is not a political leader in Greece anymore. As for the European idea, let’s wait and see. Let him do whatever he likes.
"He wants to be in the press, he wants to be invited for interviews, he wants to go on trips and with this initiative he probably will continue to do this. But I don't think it is a serious political initiative neither on the Greek or European level,” he says.
But many people in Greece and Europe do agree that something should be done about Brussels' bureaucracy and lack of transparency.
In the Manifesto, Varoufakis proposes in his to create a directly elected Constitutional Assembly that should abolish all existing treaties, and create new ones.
“I think it is a huge undertaking,” says Lucia Lois, who was involved in the Occupy movement in Spain. “But I think it is beautiful. We have the right to dream about our way that European citizens could build a common constitution that would be the base for new democracies in all the regions of Europe.”
“It is a beautiful dream. It may be a little complicated to get there, but to have it as an objective will help us,” she says.
Lois says her grassroots organization is now going to study the manifest of Varoufakis, and, if they like it, join his movement.
Now only time can tell if Yannis Varoufakis will manage to organize the European Grassroots organizations and implement his plans, or that he will be a lonely Don Quichotte, fighting the windmills of the Brussels bureaucracy.