Alavanos….rich Communist with a keen sense of timing
The new Party formed three weeks ago by Alekos Alavanos represents a fascinating encapsulation of the Europe-wide movement against the idea of both a single currency, and German rigidity in applying fiscal discipline.
On April 4th this year, Alekos Alavanos launched his new ‘Plan B’ Party. Advocating that Greece should quit the euro and return to the drachma, in Greek political terms Mr Alavanos was ahead of the curve in doing this…but then over time, he has been exceptional in his ability to use foresight to advantage. Alth0ugh he led SYRIZA – the Leftist Party now headed by Alexis Tsipras – between 2004 and 2008, the self-confessed millionaire Communist had been almost dormant until recently. However, this year he has criticised the Party he used to lead, arguing that its goal of rejecting the terms of the EU-IMF bailout but remaining in the single currency was not credible. (See my post of April 18th).
Most of the West European MSM have given this mercurial politician a low profile, but he isn’t just another schismatic nutter. Although a man of the Left, Alavanos also has a commercial perspective: this has allegedly driven him to seek a patriotic alliance with other forces not just within Greek politics, but also within influential Athenians who know perfectly well that Brussels-am-Berlin’s rigid austerity is killing the Greek patient.
“His move at this time shows that Alekos has impeccable timing,” an Athens source told me last week, “and already people here are saying that he has skillfully out-maneouvred Tsipras. The rising trend here now is towards rejection of the euro, and Alekos Alavanos has the connections and the support to ride this wave credibly. Alexis [Tsipras] is now in danger of being isolated as somehow a supporter of the euro but also of EU reform. This no longer presents a believable platform to informed Greeks. After all, you cannot reform fanatics”.
That opinion has since been confirmed by other reguLAr and reliable Slog sources in Greece.
In particular, Alavanos has been savvy enough to work with political and media consultancies who in turn have access to the money and organisation probably necessary to make a swift impact on Greek politics.
In a broader sense, his nose has sensed a growing Europe-wide movement against the inflexible single currency. Indeed, the malaise is wider even than that: data from Eurobarometer, the EU’s own polling organisation, show a steep decline in support for the Union per se – even in countries such as Spain, Germany and Italy that have been, historically, huge fans of the European Project.
Beyond that study, however, there are now other glaring signs that the days of B-am-B dictation in the eurozone are numbered. Although Beppo Grillo in Italy has been vituperative about the nature of Enrico Letta’s appointment as Prime Minister, the new Italian leader (left) has been quick to warn both Sprouts and Krauts that the austerity policy is dead and requires a new ‘Plan B’ along the lines being suggested by Alavanos. Deputy leader of the centre-left Democratic Party since 2009, Letta told the media almost immediately that “The EU’s austerity policies no longer represent an economic model sufficient to address this deep crisis.” Much nervous blinking in the Chancellery, I’m told.
On top of the Cyprus dilemma revealed earlier at The Slog today, this growing rebellion may well signal the EU’s arrival at what one might call the Demolition Moment: that time when the Fall of the Wall cannot be resisted.