At first gaze, they are unlikely bedfellows.
One is combative former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis – a motorbike-riding academic and key figure of the radical left in Europe.
The other is Emmanuel Macron, the ex-Rothschild investment banker and centrist frontrunner for the French presidency, accused by critics of being the candidate of the wealthy.
While light-years divide the pair politically, Varoufakis on Tuesday issued a call for voters in France to back Macron when they go to the polls this weekend.
The Greek anti-austerity hard-liner explains his endorsement in an article in the French newspaper Le Monde.
Part of his motivation is stopping Macron’s rival in Sunday’s second-round run-off, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
“I refuse to be part of a generation of European progressives who could have stopped Marine Le Pen from winning France’s presidency but didn’t,” Varoufakis writes.
But he stresses that there is another reason for him backing Macron – and it dates back to 2015.
At that time, both men were deeply involved in talks surrounding Greece’s crippling debt crisis.
Varoufakis, the then Greek finance chief, was infuriating Athens’ international creditors by refusing to go along with their demands for austerity in return for cash.
And as tensions grew, he found an unlikely ally in Macron, describing the Frenchman as “the only minister of state in Europe that went out of his way to lend a helping hand. And he did so at a personal political cost.”
Varoufakis describes how Macron, formerly Economy Minister in French President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government, desperately sought a solution.
“I do not want my generation to be the one responsible for Greece exiting Europe,” he quotes Macron as saying.
Macron’s efforts to intervene to prevent harsh austerity being inflicted on Greece included a proposed incognito mediation mission to Athens, Varoufakis writes.
But the French minister’s moves were ultimately fruitless as he was removed from the negotiations, allegedly on the orders of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Varoufakis writes: “By crushing the Greek Spring, the troika did not only deal a blow to Greece but also to Europe’s integrity and soul. Emmanuel Macron was the only member of the establishment that tried to stop it.”
Varoufakis says he is puzzled by the fact that ‘some leaders of the left today’ have failed to get behind Macron in his duel with Le Pen. This is seen as a firm dig at far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, defeated in the first round of the French poll, who has chosen not to endorse Macron.
Yet there is a sting in the tail as Varoufakis signs off his article. The self-proclaimed ‘erratic Marxist’ underlines that he is no political soul-mate of the man forecast to win the French presidency within days.
“For my part, my promise to Emmanuel is this: I shall mobilise fully to help you beat Le Pen with the same strength that I shall be joining the next Nuit Debout (Up all Night) people’s protest to oppose your government when, and if, you, as President, attempt to continue with your dead-end already-failed neo-liberalism.”