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The Varoufakis family’s moment of glory is over

07 July 2015 / 19:07:05  GRReporter
14093 reads

"A Greek power couple’s meteoric ascent stalls" - this is the title of the analysis of the true madness that has gripped Greek and foreign media in connection with former Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis and his wife Danae Stratou published by Politico magazine.

Their sudden popularity, however, has negative effects on their lives because, as stated, they have become the targets of harsh ridicule too. The article begins with the recent incident in the Athens neighbourhood of Exarcheia during which Danae Stratou stood before her husband Yanis Varoufakis to protect him from the attack by anarchists.

"This is not the first time that Danae Stratou has saved her husband, and probably it will not be the last, as this seemingly mismatched couple, an alliance between a leftist politician and a woman who comes from one of the oldest rich families in Greece, has proved to be one of the most interesting couples in Europe. The pair has appeared on the international stage due to the Greek crisis. Varoufakis has become the intellectual force behind SYRIZA since the election period. However, the rise of the family has stalled and it is likely to reverse. The feeling is that Varoufakis is isolated following his complicated relationship with Greece's creditors. The glamorous lifestyle of the couple has provoked contempt through publications in the press and it has become clear that Danae Stratou has financial and, possibly also, legal problems," reads the article.

How they met

Yanis Varoufakis and Danae Stratou met ten years ago, when Varoufakis’ ex-wife Margarita Poulou returned to Australia with their daughter Xenia, leaving him in a state of shock, as he wrote on his blog. Several months later, Varoufakis was "saved" having met artist Danae Stratou at a private event. It was love at first sight.

George Krimbas, a colleague of Varoufakis from the University of Athens, remembers, "The moment they met, you could see that they would join up." It was a second marriage for both of them. Danae Stratou’s first husband was George Momferatos, a business consultant, candidate for MP of New Democracy and the son of Nikos Momferatos, the publisher of the newspaper Apogevmatini, who was killed by the terrorist group 17 November.

Their ideology

Both Danae Stratou and Yanis Varoufakis do not share the right-wing views. During one of their first trips abroad as a couple, they visited a number of "troubled" countries such as Kosovo, Belfast, Ethiopia, Palestine, Cyprus, Kashmir and the US-Mexican border. The result was an art installation called "CUT-7 dividing lines", created by Danae Stratou whereas Varoufakis wrote a number of political and economic texts. George Krimbas states, "They are very close in life, love and work."

Different background

Danae Stratou’s grandfather was the co-founder of the company Piraiki Patraiki but when it went bankrupt, the family's wealth was intact. Danae is the middle daughter among five sisters and one of the favourite children of her father Phaedon. Her mother Eleni Potaga-Stratou is one of the respected artists in Greece.

Yanis Varoufakis in turn is the son of George Varoufakis who was a supporter of communism, he was imprisoned in 1945-1949 during the Civil War, and later held a managerial post at the Greek steel company Halivourgiki. Varoufakis states that, actually, he was mainly influenced by Karl Marx, from his childhood to the present day.


The couple is a Greek example of the "champagne left": he adds a pinch of Marxism to economic theories and she turns social aspects into art. Together they have welcomed wealthy families and famous Greek artists at Danae Stratou’s house in Aegina. An interesting situation was established in Greece after World War II when Greek intellectuals mingled with the Communist resistance against the Nazis, and conservatives and Marxists lived together even within the same family.

Writer and journalist Takis Theodoropoulos note, "The family of Danae Stratou have a very strong base, namely good old money. Only that Greek society is mobile, with many changes in the social strata occurring within one generation." The ideological differences between Varoufakis and Danae’s family were a serious obstacle to their relationship but they decided to take their path as Stratou stated that she fully agreed with the views and beliefs of her husband.

Black boxes

In 2010 they founded together the creative platform Vital Spaces that included Danae Stratou’s work of art "It’s time to open the black boxes." The art installation consisted of 100 black boxes and it was inspired by the recording devices used in the investigation of plane crashes.

Varoufakis wrote an essay devoted to the work of art, emphasizing the relationship between art and the global economic crisis, the product of what he called "the super black boxes of social power."

Amid crisis

The dynamics of their relationship changed with the advent of the Greek economic crisis. Varoufakis says that before 2009, he was an ordinary professor of finance who was writing obscure books for few people but the crisis has turned him into a star in Greece. He challenged the standard notion that chaos was only Greece’s fault. His blog gained great popularity. Upon returning to Greece, he won the elections with SYRIZA and there are even women who follow him everywhere.

Pop star

One of the ministers in the euro area said that when he first met with Varoufakis he understood that he felt like a pop star. Several months later, the other finance ministers fiercely criticized Varoufakis because of his pompous rhetoric and unusual dress code. It is known what happened next - Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras limited his competence, though in an interview with the German weekly Die Zeit, the already former finance minister claims that he sets the tone.

The publication in the Politico magazine notes that the Varoufakis-Stratou show is compulsory not only for the Greek government but also for the couple itself. Greeks want to reach an agreement and the support for the tactics of Varoufakis has declined, though polls indicate that it remains high.

Paris Match

The prelude to the wrong steps made by the couple was the photo session for Paris Match, which caused a storm of reactions. Takis Theodoropoulos states, "It is easy to become a star in Greece and I think they both have benefited from that. The problem is that Greece needs modesty and they were not the best example of it." Now they are the target of ridicule and it turns out that Danae Stratou owes taxes.

Tags: Yanis VaroufakisDanae StratouPolitico magazine
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