I met George Papandreou a couple of times at conferences and had brief conversations with him. He always seemed like a reasonable and serious guy. This was all before he became Greece's Prime Minister in October, 2009, but after he became leader of the Greek PASOK party in 2004, the old socialist party of Greece, which his father and grandfather had led, with both of them serving as PMs also. George's father, Andreas, was an economist and was on the Berkeley faculty for some period of time and married an American woman, George's mother. George served as a minister of education and some other positions when his father was PM during the 1980s and 1990s. While PASOK is dead, and George's effort to start a new party and run in the most recent election totally failed, he continues to serve as president of the Socialist International, a position he has held since 2006.
The most dramatic thing that he did came shortly after he became PM in late 2009: he revealed that Greece had been lying about its national income accounts and particularly its budget deficits. These had been claimed by the previous administration to be around 6% of GDP, but were actually nearly 13% of GDP. George fessed up to this, which was the trigger for what would be called the "eurocrisis," and which went on for several years, basically until the ECB announced that they would "do what is necessary" to back up sovereign debt in the eurozone, bringing down interest rates in nearly all nations in the zone, although not in Greece.
This admission and crisis led to the original bailout of the Greek financial system, with all that austerity imposed for financial support. That deal was unsustainable, and their would be a readjustment in 2012, which was also unsustainable, with all the more recent stuff arising due to that.
So, socially and politically progressive Papandreou accepted imposition of an austerity program that tanked the Greek economy. His popularity steadily declined as it became clear how disastrous the agreement was, with him finally stepping down in late 2011 in favor of a unity government. As it is, while he remains highly respected abroad, and I have very high personal respect for him, his fall into unpopularity in Greece seems to have been total and probably permanent.
So, it looks like Alexis Tsipras seems to have followed his path. After lots of rhetoric and admirable efforts to get a better deal for Greece, he has in the end totally surrendered and caved to the demands of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble and his allies in such countries as Finland and Slovakia. While there are funds being provided, if anything it looks like the austerity being imposed may well be worse than what went down before. I am not going to repeat how unfair and unreasoanble all this, other than to note the IMF declaring that this agreement is also unsustainable without debt restructuring, totally rejected by Schauble and his allies. To get this awful agreement through the Greek parliament, Tsipras had to rely on his opponents, with many Syriza members not supporting it, and major demonstrations going on outside, even though apparently a majority of Greeks oppose leaving the euro. I sympathize with Tsipras's position, but, I fear, he has just become the next George Papandreou. As it is, Yanis Varoufakis resigned after the referendum passed that was supposed to get the troika to back off, but failed to do so. We shall see how long it will be before Tsipras follows Papandreou out of office.