Monday 26 June 2017

The real reasons why Tsipras cannot 'cave in to austerity'

'It’s an interesting point that political wives are sometimes seen as being more left wing than their politician husbands'
'It’s an interesting point that political wives are sometimes seen as being more left wing than their politician husbands'
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

Whatever the fate of Greece today, history may recall that the French have an old tradition of blaming a woman for some of the problems. "Cherchez la femme," said Voltaire: some female will make trouble.

For French President Francois Hollande seems to blame Betty Batziana - 'Red Betty' - the life partner of Alexis Tsipras for the financial intransigence of Athens. Hollande said last week that the Greek Prime Minister and founder of Syriza was "henpecked" by his partner: the Greek politician had confided to Hollande that he "could not cave in" to EU austerity demands because if he did "Betty will leave me".

Batziana - she has retained her own family name and she and Tsipras have never married, on a point of secularist principle - is known to be more left wing than her partner, and, originally, was more political than he was. As a young man, and until he developed knee problems, Tsipras was more interested in sport than politics. It was she who was the political firebrand, and, according to reports, it was she who introduced Alexis to the Greek Communist Party, the KKE, which, back in the day, was especially supine to Moscow. It's perhaps surprising that it was Tsipras, rather than Batziana, who became the politician in the family. She took a PhD in electrical and computing engineering, and pursued an academic career, while her partner entered parliament in 2009, and found himself Prime Minister in January this year. (They have two sons - one, Orpheus Ernesto, was named after Che Guevara.)

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