Varoufakis’s MERA25 fight EU election with Palestine agenda

Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister, launched MERA25 as a radical alternative to the European status quo [Getty]

With less than three weeks to go before Europeans cast their votes in the European Parliament elections, MERA25 launched its campaign in Berlin, with a series of radical leftist policies on the economy, democratic rights and climate change.

However, the unique issue that sets it apart from all  parties running in Germany is its stance on Palestine

MERA25 is part of a larger political movement, DiEM25, that was established in 2016 by former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who is also campaigning in Athens for a seat in the EU Parliament.

With branches in Germany, Greece, Italy and Sweden, the party was focussed on radical proposals for economic reform, ranging from the introduction of a 4-day working week, abolishing the Value-Added-Tax (VAT) on basic goods such as water and food, and a so-called Green New Deal that fundamentally overhauls the EU’s policies on climate change. 

But ever since 7 October, 2023 and the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza – classified by some, including UN experts, as genocide – MERA25 has been actively campaigning to hold the German government accountable for its complicity in war crimes committed by Israel. 

Speaking to the audience in Berlin via Zoom, Varoufakis reiterated that Palestine is central to MERA25’s election programme, accusing the EU of following the policies of the US in dealing with the war on Gaza. 

“We are here to tell the people of Palestine of our commitment to fight this European election on their behalf, as well as on the behalf of our Jewish comrades who cry out here in Berlin to help us expose (president of the European Commission)  Ursula von der Leyen as a warmongering genocidal cheerleader answering only to her true masters in Washington DC,” he said.  

The party sees the war on Gaza as interlinked with the erosion of freedom of expression in Europe, especially in Germany. Varoufakis himself was banned last month by the German authorities from entering Germany, and was forbidden from giving talks to the German public even via video-conferencing. Although no official reasons were given for the ban, it is widely believed to be linked with the banning of the Palestine Congress that was organised by hold Israel and Germany accountable for the war on Gaza. 

MERA25 confirmed that the ban was subsequently lifted and Varoufakis intends to sue the German government

“A few months ago, I never imagined it would be possible for the German State to ban me from Germany for an event like this one,” Varoufakis continued. “It is now evident that there are no limits to the lengths that this Europe will go to silence (us), so don’t be silent. Vote for candidates that will annoy the living daylight out of those ruling Europe.” 

With ten candidates on the list, none of whom have previous experience in economics or political governance, MERA25 is realistic about its expectations and chances of achieving its radical programmes. The biggest challenge at the moment is securing its first win in the election. 

Germany is the most populous country in the EU, and has 96 out 270 seats in the EU Parliament. MERA25 will need a minimum of %0.6 of the votes in order to win. In their first ever campaign in 2019, they only managed to secure ) %0.3 of the votes. 

Karin de Rigo, one of the candidates, believes that the party’s stance on Palestine is a key factors for those who may consider voting for it, especially as most of Germany’s mainstream parties have taken a pro-Israel stance, often conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. 

“There is a link between the struggle for liberation in Palestine, and the struggle for freedoms here in Germany because there is a repressive atmosphere that’s been going on for the last seven months,” she said. “In my opinion, this issue is now more important than inflation. Inflation is a cyclical thing. It can be fought with short or long-term measure. But democracy is the foundation of our society and if we don’t pay attention to it, we are going to be overwhelmed by the right wing parties.” 

According to a recent poll by German broadcaster ZDF, the centrist-right European People’s Party (EPP) is expected to maintain its current lion’s share of the seats. The EPP is a coalition between the governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU). The second place is predicted to be a tie between the far-right Alternative for Germany (AFD), and the Green Party. 

Despite the growing fear of the rise of far-right movements all across Europe, MERA25 is clear about its position against entering into any partnerships with parties that do not share its core beliefs. 

“We do not want to repeat the mistakes of the old left,” said Johannes Fehr, an industrial engineer who is also a candidate. “There are parties in Germany who joined the choir of the establishment only to fight the far right. But for us, it is really important that we show people that we want to change government policies.” 

Aside from foreign policies, domestic voters are expected to make a selection based on economic policies. Germany’s economy faced a recession in 2023, with a GDP decline of %0.2 but was projected to make a slight recovery of %0.01 this year, and %1 in 2025. 

The EU elections, which take place between 6-9 June, will be the first to be held after Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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