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The Guardian FEBRUARY 10, 2016 - by Philip Oltermann
YANIS VAROUFAKIS LAUNCHES PAN-EUROPEAN LEFTWING MOVEMENT DIEM25
Greece's former finance minister says umbrella group will 'shake Europe - gently, compassionately, but firmly'
Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has launched a new pan-European umbrella group that aims to pull together leftwing parties, grassroots protest movements and "rebel regions" from across the continent.
At the launch on Tuesday night, Varoufakis said that the new DiEM25 movement would "shake Europe - gently, compassionately, but firmly". "Europe will be democratised, or it will disintegrate, and it will do so quite fast", the self-described "erratic Marxist" said, warning of a return to a "postmodern version of the 1930s".
The evening at Berlin's Volksbühne theatre, also featured speeches from Barcelona's mayor, Ada Colau, British Green MP Caroline Lucas, representatives of Germany's Blockupy movement, as well as musician Brian Eno, philosopher Slavoj Žižek and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. "When parliaments become theatres, we have to turn theatres into parliaments", said Miguel Urbán Crespo, an MEP for Spain's Podemos party.
In an article published in The Guardian last week, Varoufakis said the DiEM25 group would lobby for more transparent processes in European decision-making, including live-streaming of council meetings and full disclosure of trade negotiation documents.
"Our medium-term goal is to convene a constitutional assembly where Europeans will deliberate on how to bring forth, by 2025, a full-fledged European democracy, featuring a sovereign parliament that respects national self-determination and shares power with national parliaments, regional assemblies and municipal councils", said the economist academic, who resigned from government in July last year after a series of run-ins with other European finance ministers.
"One simple, radical idea is our motivating force: to democratise Europe in the knowledge that the EU will either be democratised or it will disintegrate at a terrible cost to all."
In the run-up to its launch, DiEM25 drew some criticism from activists, some of them asking whether it represented an agenda already covered by other pro-transparency and anti-austerity party groups in the European parliament. Sven Giegold, a German Green MEP, called Varoufakis "populist and disrespectful" in an open letter. In another open letter, a Blockupy activist criticised DiEM25 for charging €12 (£9.30) for its launch event.
Srećko Horvat, one of the co-writers of the manifesto, told The Guardian: "At the moment, DiEM25 is not a party, nor an organisation or think-tank. We consider the conventional model of political parties obsolete. Rather than build at a national level and then expand to Europe, we are turning that process upside down and starting a movement at an international level, but taking into consideration existing movements and grassroots at national, regional and local level."
Horvat said he did not exclude the possibility that DiEM25 could form a political grouping in the European parliament at some point down the line, but insisted that doing so was "not the main aim" of DiEM25.
"Yes, there are other parties who call for more transparency in European decision-making. But have they succeeded so far? No. It is only thanks to WikiLeaks that we have a better idea what TPP-TISA-TTIP, the biggest secret agreement in history, will entail, which is the reason why Julian Assange is also supportive of our transparency endeavours and why we hope he will be free soon."
Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, told The Guardian she considered DiEM25 "strong allies and partners", and supported the movement setting practical, short-term goals for improving the architecture of the EU.
Asked what made him feel sure that DiEM25 could succeed where movements like Attac had not, Varoufakis replied: "Absolutely nothing. But it's the only way I can wake up in the morning and feel energised."