European media meltdown over Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis

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By Joanna Gill
European media meltdown over Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis

The media loves a wild card and they’ve found their latest darling in the shape of Greece’s new Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. He is creating a stir from the Mediterranean to the North Sea and for more than just his intellectual credentials.

The man who called austerity “fiscal waterboarding” is racking up the air miles in economy class as he visits European leaders on his anti-bailout tour.

Paris, je t’aime

His first stop was Paris where he garnered the nickname “Monsieur Catastrophe” from the Journal de Dimanche. The media noted that just one week after the elections, Varoufakis had already stolen the limelight from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. With such a warm welcome at the Elysée it felt as though the French President might have hoped to piggyback on the success of the anti-austerity victory represented by Varoufakis.

A tweet from the Elysee says, “Greece and France share the same values: democracy, freedom and a commitment to Europe.”

Anarchy in the UK

Crossing the Channel, he met with Chancellor George Osborne in London. British left-wing broadsheet The Guardian was keen to praise his nod to ‘normcore’ style, adding how “refreshing” it was to have a “normal person” on the steps of Number 11 Downing Street.

Varoufakis is expected to meet the man who signs your euro notes, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi on Wednesday before heading to Germany to meet Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble later in the week. Expect a media meltdown on this day. It might even break the internet. Varoufakis pre-empted it by saying, “Journalists love to portray the situation as a kind of Wild West showdown”. But little did he know just how many hashtags and column inches his meetings have already spawned.

Worn to be Wild

Though commentators usually restrict their fashion opinions to female politicians’ attire, in the UK they’ve gone all out on Varoufakis’ anti-banker sartorial choices.

One Twitter user quipped:

Meanwhile, most of the media fell over itself to comment on his wardrobe in the context of other leading politicians’ clothing choices.

The leather jacket has a long history in the wardrobe of radicals and heart throbs. It appears his wardrobe choices perfectly matched his policies, blurring the line between politics and fashion and making anti-austerity so this season. The British newspapers’ obsession with said leather jacket prompted a sarcastic backlash on Twitter #Therevolutionissartorial.

The French press couldn’t help but comment on his “rock n roll” style in comparison to technocrats, mentioning his rugby-esque build and shaved head, adding he resembled Bruce Willis more than the French Finance Minister Michel Sapin.

Troika killer, Lady killer

Although he may not be palatable to bankers, it appears he is becoming somewhat of a heart-throb for non-banker humans.

Portuguese socialist MP Isabel Moreira voiced her approval of Varoufakis in a Facebook post saying “The Greek Minister is so damn sexy” (O ministro das finanças grego é sexy, porra) although it’s not clear whether she was referring to his left-wing policies or his physical appearance. The Global Minotaur was a gripping read.

The man, the myth

You’re not anyone until you have a Facebook fan page, and V for Varoufakis has notched up more than 47,000 likes.

By travelling in economy class he has already won over the internet.

Media labels
  • Enfant terrible
  • German TV channel n-TV noted Varoufakis commented on his meteoric rise from Economics professor to enfant terrible of the European political scene.
  • Rock economist
  • French newspaper Le Monde also notes his shaven head, t-shirts and unbuttoned shirt as well as his powerful stature to call him a “rock economist” who cites ‘Hotel California’ to describe the eurozone.

  • Dishevelled
  • In Spanish media, the new Finance Minister has been described as scruffy .

  • The Only Way is Essex
  • In the British media, much has been made of his time spent at Essex University. Conservative newspaper The Telegraph talks about it being a hotbed for Greece’s radical left.

In his own words (from Twitter) Varoufakis describes himself as an, “Economics professor, quietly writing obscure academic texts for years, until thrust onto the public scene by Europe’s inane handling of an inevitable crisis.”

Let’s leave it at that.