Steve Bannon, often called the architect of Donald Trump's presidential victory even if friends so easily become foes in this manic political set-up, is now setting his sights on Europe with a promise to boost far-right sentiment across the pond with a new foundation that plans to hand out resources to Euroskeptics and anti-EU populists.
Bannon says he’s setting up a Brussels-based non-profit NGO called "The Movement", which hopes to take on billionaire George Soros, which has given away billions of euros to largely liberal causes since 1980s.
Bannon told media that the non-profit will offer polling, advice on messaging and data targeting, and think-tank research for right-wing groups concerned with threats to sovereignty, border control, jobs and other issues that have populists and nationalists up in arms.
"Right-wing populist nationalism is what will happen. That's what will govern," he told the Daily Beast. "You're going to have individual nation states with their own identities, their own borders."
The timing is important, too. In May 2019, European Parliament will hold Europe-wide elections. Bannon is hoping to play a key role in turning that parliament into a populist establishment by influencing the selection of up to one-third of the lawmakers.
To do that, The Movement is planning to hire up to 10 full-time staffers and set up a headquarters ahead of the 2019 elections. The strategy and staffing sounds rather modest in comparison to the lofty goals …
And, still, we don’t know how Bannon plans to fund his far-right dream. Beyond that, it’s important to note that The Movement doesn’t exist yet, even if the idea itself has garnered plenty of attention.
Member of the European Parliament from Germany and center-left politician Udo Bullmann branded Bannon’s idea “an attack on freedom and democracy in Europe,” vowing a response to his initiative. Related: U.S. Shuts Down Foreign Software Testing
Liberal Belgian politician Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and MEP, wants to ban Bannon from Europe.
The problem for Europe is that these are times that even a non-entity such as Bannon can potentially wreak havoc. Some EU nations have been witnessing a surge of radical right political parties and movements that have been gaining voter support, suggesting that Bannon—against all odds—might end up with a decent base if his far-right ideas make their way off paper and find funding.
And it was lost on few that since he was kicked out of the White House and Breitbart News, Bannon has hungrily devoured Europe, looking for a new home for his career. He recently met with the newly elected Italian leadership that had campaigned to leave the Eurozone—but in the end backtracked.
Over the past year, Bannon has also held talks with other right-wing groups across the continent, including British Nigel Farage and members of Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France, as well as with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the Polish populists. He’s even hit up critics of Pope Francis.
Like it or not, right-wing populism is rising dangerously across the continent, and in its rise, it’s gaining political credibility—mostly on ideas of anti-immigration and strict border control, as well as issues of sovereignty that these groups feel is threatened by the EU.
Italy, the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary have all recently elected right-wing leaders.
But uniting all of these far-right parties across Europe will be a formidable challenge, and one that many think a figure like Bannon isn’t quite up to. He was too toxic even for Trump.
By Tom Kool for Safehaven.com
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