Bannon to establish Brussels headquarters, targeting EU election

Former Trump political strategist Steve Bannon attends a discussion meeting with Lanny Davis, former strategist of Hillary Clinton (unseen) in Prague, Czech Republic, 22 May 2018. [Martin Divisek/EPA/EFE]

As EURACTIV wrote last March, an ‘agent provocateur’ has entered European politics, and his name is Steve Bannon, former senior advisor to President Donald Trump.

Bannon told The Daily Beast, an American news and opinion website focused on politics and pop culture, that he is setting up a foundation in Europe called The Movement, which he hopes will lead a right-wing populist revolt across the continent, starting with the European Parliament elections next spring.

Bannon was the wizard behind Trump’s election campaign, which earned him the post of chief strategist, a new position in the White House until his boss dumped him after seven months in office.

Last spring the alt-right’s rock star was on a European tour, having made much-noticed appearances in the Italian elections, where he seemed to be engineering a coalition between the 5-Star Movement and the Northern League of Matteo Salvini.

Bannon went on to share the stage with Marine Le Pen in France, in an effort to give her – and the French far-right – its second wind. He also made a stopover in Switzerland.

Bannon told the Daily beast he envisions a right-wing “supergroup” within the European Parliament that could attract as many as one-third of the lawmakers after next May’s European elections.

The Movement’s headquarters are expected to be located in Brussels, where reportedly they will start hiring staff in coming months. It is expected that there will be fewer than 10 full-time staff ahead of the 2019 elections, with a polling expert, a communications person, an office manager and a researcher among the positions.

The plan is to ramp that up to more like 25 people post-2019 if the project has been a success.

Bannon plans to spend half of his time in Europe—mostly in the field rather than the Brussels office—once the midterm elections in the US are over in November.

“I didn’t get the idea until Marine Le Pen invited me to speak at Lille at the Front National”, Bannon is quoted as saying. He asked Le Pen what did she expected from him as a message. She replied: “All you have to say is, ‘We’re not alone.’”

Bannon was stunned to discover that the nationalist movements in Europe were not pooling skills and sharing ideas with populist parties in neighbouring countries—let alone on a global scale.

Indeed, there is little sympathy between many European nationalist movements, as most of them envision national grandeur at the expense of the neighbours. Also, the anti-migration rhetoric of many Western European far-right politicians basically targets the electorate of their far right East European colleagues.

The anti-Soros

Bannon his himself as the rival of George Soros and his ‘Open Society’ foundation.

“Soros is brilliant,” he said. “He’s evil but he’s brilliant.”

Bannon said he sees Salvini as a model for his future Movement partners to follow. “Italy is the beating heart of modern politics,” he said. “If it works there, it can work everywhere.”

Salvini has similar plans for an all-European force, similar to Italy’s Lega Nord. The firebrand Italian politician has certainly succeeded in a very short time to elevate Lega Nord, traditionally a regionalist separatist force, into a national far-right party.

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