Steve Bannon Has a New Movement, But Are There Any Takers?
Steve Bannon, Trump’s former campaign manager, is taking his politics to Europe but Europe doesn’t seem ready to welcome him with open arms.
Donald Trump’s ousted campaign manager, Steve Bannon, has been touring Europe for the past few months with the aim of: “fomenting a Trump-style populist revolt.”
After affecting a tectonic shift in the American political landscape, Bannon has turned his sights and his resources on Europe, with the aim of helping far-right, populist parties across the continent win seats in the upcoming European Parliamentary elections.
To that end, he and Belgian corporate lawyer Mischaël Modrikamen are building up what they call The Movement, a political consultancy for the far-right. Based in an opulent mansion in the suburbs of Brussels, its goal is the establishment of a populist super-bloc within the European Parliament; they want to win a third of the 700+ seats that are up for grabs.
They promise to give free help and assistance with polling, data analysis, social media and the selection of candidates. Bannon says he is funding The Movement partially from his own pocket but is reluctant to say where the rest of the money is coming from. He sees the organization as a populist, nationalist, global NGO and a counterpoint to George Soros and his Open Society Foundation, a man he describes as “evil but brilliant.” His stated motivation is the promotion of nationalism over globalization, but his deeper, personal motives are less clear.
The Current Political Climate in Europe
Europe is currently awash with far-right parties and sentiment. There’s France’s National Front, Hungary’s Fidesz, the Sweden Democrats, the Freedom Party of Austria, Vox in Spain, the Brothers of Italy, Alternative for Germany, the Dutch Party for Freedom, UKIP. The list goes on. On the face of it, help from the man who put Trump in the White House would seem like manna from heaven for these groups, but so far he has few takers. What he seems to have underestimated is the complexity of European politics and the underlying anti-American feeling many people hold. In not so many words, he’s being told to “butt out.”
Aside from Italy’s Mateo Salvini and Modrikamen’s own tiny party, the Belgian People’s Party, the rest of Europe’s nationalists, populists and other far-right groups have been lukewarm in their response to The Movement.
And as to Bannon’s own personal motives, one has to ask why. At an age when most people are slowing down and writing their memoirs, why jet halfway across the world to try to affect the course of European affairs?
Could it be that Mr. Bannon has become hooked on power, as have so many before him?
Motives aside, it seems he and Modrikamen needed to do more research when they established The Movement. Surprisingly, for an organization run by a lawyer and an ex-banker, Modrikamen and Bannon have overlooked that The Movement’s promise of free political consultancy breaches campaign finance laws in nine of the 13 countries it is targeting. Only time will tell if it will have any influence at all in the minefield that constitutes European politics.