Elena Panaritis’ appointment as Greece’s representative to the International Monetary Fund generated increased criticism from within the ruling Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party and the opposition. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’ choice of the economist has come under fire from within his own party, prompting the reaction of Panaritis herself.
Local social media has been abuzz since Saturday’s announcement, with SYRIZA (NGL/GUE) MEP Sofia Sakorafa amongst the first to take to Twitter: “Panaritis, a representative of the first left government? Heck no, that goes beyond the limit. Unfortunately, Panaritis is not the first inappropriate choice, but it is the choice that goes over the edge!”
The criticism did not leave Panaritis unmoved, she took to usay.gr to counter: “If they don’t want me once, then I don’t want them 10 times. The reactions are immature, as all that interests me is defending my country, as I have done from the first moment since entering the negotiation team.”
Panariti is a “red flag” for SYRIZA’s virulently anti-capitalist Left Platform. Leftist critics bemoan her “neo-liberal” viewpoints and tenure as a Greek Parliament deputy with then ruling socialist PASOK party from 2009 through to 2012. As an MP she voted for all the memorandum-related bills then passed by the PASOK government and the subsequent coalition government. Prior to that, Panaritis worked for the World Bank, amongst others.
As Varoufakis’ adviser, she has been involved in the country’s negotiation with creditors but her role in negotiations was diminished when the negotiating team’s mandate was curbed in late April. She was sidelined at the time, with critics claiming she was obstructing progress in the talks.