ATHENS – They were bitter foes and now Greek former finance chief Yanis Varoufakis is trying to sink the candidacy of former Eurozone leader Jeroen Dijsselbloem to be the new head of the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund.
Varoufakis was finance minister in the first seven months of 2015 after the Radical Left SYRIZA won elections and then-Premier Alexis Tsipras tapped the economist/blogger/games theoretician to be Greece’s point man in negotiations with the European Union.
The combative Varoufakis was forced out after refusing to back Tsipras’ reneging on anti-austerity promises to get a third bailout for Greece, this one for 86 billion euros ($95.71 billion) that the Greek leader said he would never seek nor accept but did.
Varoufakis had tangled over with Dijsselbloem and sniped at Tsipras for 4 ½ years until the dissident party he formed, MeRA25, won nine seats in the Greek Parliament in the July 7 snap elections that saw New Democracy oust SYRIZA and Tsipras.
In a tweet, Varoufakis described Dijsselbloem as “clueless” and said that the European Union’s only criterion for picking a candidate to lead the IMF is “blind and irresponsible obedience.” Former French finance chief Christine Lagarde heads the IMF but will leave to become the leader of the European Central Bank on Nov. 1 and was another opponent for Varoufakis who wanted Tsipras to stand up to the Troika of the EU-ECB-European Stability Mechanism that put up the third bailout. The IMF took part in two previous packages for 240 billion euros ($267.11 billion.)
Varoufakis said Dijsselbloem doesn’t have the technical qualifications to lead the IMF, whose leader is European as part of an unwritten. agreement that sees the United States pick the head of the World Bank.
Pushing his candidacy, Dijsselbloem came to Athens to meet new Finance Minister Christos Staikouras from New Democracy but there were no reports on what they discussed although the Dutch politician is eager to get support for the job but is facing opposition as well from Italy, Spain and Portugal, other countries that had economic problems and had to deal with the EU.