In January 2015, Varoufakis was appointed Greek Minister of Finance following several years of financial crisis and severe austerity measures that brought the country to the brink of ruin. On his Continental Tour to secure a bailout, Varoufakis wielded a peculiar celebrity appeal. The New York Times said:
“The Europeans eyed Varoufakis as if his species had never swum in their lagoon. Epithets included “used-car salesman,” “hothead” and “nightclub bouncer,” and some wondered why he always had one hand in his pocket. They dwelled on his black leather jacket, his popped collar, the colors of his shirts, his shaved head. He was apparently a sex symbol, too… he had charisma.”
Varoufakis’ negotiating strategy relied on Europe ‘blinking first’ because of the risk of contagion. He assumed that the threat of a Grexit would have devastating consequences to the eurozone. However, he failed to reach an agreement with the European troika (European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund) leading to the 2015 bailout referendum. The referendum rejected the troika bailout terms, and the day afterwards Varoufakis resigned as Minister of Finance, four months into his political tenure. He voted against the third bailout package and in the ensuing September snap election, he did not stand for reelection.
In February 2016, he launched the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25) and subsequently backed a Remain vote in the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum. In March 2018, he founded MeRA25, the "electoral wing" of DiEM25 in Greece. In the 2019 legislative election, MeRA25 was the sixth most voted-for party, amassing nine parliamentary seats, with Varoufakis himself returning to the Hellenic Parliament. In December 2018, Varoufakis launched the Progressive International with United States Senator Bernie Sanders.