As we reported in July, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon has been canvassing Europe as he forms form a loose coalition of populist governments, coordinated through Brussels-based non-profit NGO; "The Movement."
Founded by Belgian politician Mischaël Modrikamen, The Movement will highlight the importance of national sovereignty, strong borders, strict limits on migration and staunch opposition to radical Islamic terror.
The Movement, which plans to hold a founding convention in Brussels in late November, will also serve as a link between allies in 27 EU countries and the pro-Trump freedom caucus in the US.
The non-profit will be a central source of polling, advice on messaging, data targeting, and think-tank research for a ragtag band of right-wingers who are surging all over Europe, in many cases without professional political structures or significant budgets.
Bannon’s ambition is for his organization ultimately to rival the impact of Soros’s Open Society, which has given away $32 billion to largely liberal causes since it was established in 1984.
Over the past year, Bannon has held talks with right-wing groups across the continent from Nigel Farage and members of Marine Le Pen’s Front National (recently renamed Rassemblement National) in the West, to Hungary’s Viktor Orban and the Polish populists in the East. -Daily Beast
Right-wing populist parties have made significant electoral gains throughout Europe over the last several years, following spikes in violent crime and terrorism correlated to the influx of unchecked migrants primarily from North Africa. Thus far, these movements have been largely uncoordinated. Bannon and The Movement aim to fix this, and they're putting the plan in motion.
Bannon is planning a roadshow across half a dozen European countries starting this week to galvanize populist leaders and parties into a loose alliance and help gain a bigger foothold for their policies in the European Parliament, Trump’s former strategist said in an interview.
“The individual parties throughout Europe are ‘woke’,” Bannon said in an interview last week in his Capitol Hill townhouse, adding that he wants enough like-minded candidates to win seats in the EU Parliament to act as a block on pro-EU groups. “Europe’s going to see an intensity and focus among the voters and the media that what is happening is basically going to be a continent-wide presidential election.” -Bloomberg
As Bloomberg notes, political forces across Europe are aligning "ahead of a clash over fundamental principals that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned questions the EU's future cohesion."
Populists, on the other hand, argue that unchecked migration and other economic strains have already endangered whatever cohesion remains.
Bannon is convinced that the coming years will see a drastic break from decades of European integration. “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.” -Daily Beast
Italy, for example, saw the right-wing anti-establishment Five Star Movement and right-wing League parties form a coalition government. The League, with an initial goal of creating a separate northern state, plans mass deportations for migrants in the country illegally.
Thus far, Italy's League and the Brothers of Italy are the first two groups to officially affiliate with The Movement.
So far Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigrant League and the far-right Brothers of Italy are the only two groups that have officially aligned themselves with The Movement, which will offer like-minded parties -- free of charge -- polling, data analytics, messaging and so-called war room services. The group won’t be involved in selecting candidates or in imposing platforms. -Bloomberg
According to Modrikamen, 52, France's Macron and his allies in Parliament are only pushing people towards populism. Last week's EU assembly vote to censure Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban "created an iconic leader out of Orban," while Macron's pledge to lead the pro-globalist movement against nationalists is "perfect for us."
As for Bannon, he plans to spend at least half of his time in Europe, mostly in the field, once US midterm elections are over in November.
Bannon and Raheem Kassam, a former Farage staffer and Breitbart editor, set up shop in a five-star Mayfair hotel for a week while Donald Trump was visiting Europe. Between TV appearances as Trump surrogates, they hosted a raft of Europe’s leading right-wingers at the hotel. -Daily Beast
“It was so successful that we're going to start staffing up,” said Bannon. “Everybody agrees that next May is hugely important, that this is the real first continent-wide face-off between populism and the party of Davos. This will be an enormously important moment for Europe.”
Bannon also plans to use German chancellor Angela Merkel as "the perfect foil to help accelerate that dynamic in Europe," writes the Beast. After President Trump called Merkel out at a NATO summit earlier this month, Bannon hopped on the bandwagon - saying: "This is the lie of Angela Merkel. She’s a complete and total phony. The elites say Trump is disruptive but she’s sold out control to Russia for cheaper energy prices."
Quite interesting to watch John Kelly's face in the background as Trump says that "Germany is totally controlled by Russia." (via ABC). pic.twitter.com/qlISDzIcmd— Tomthunkit™ (@TomthunkitsMind) July 28, 2018
In June, Bannon met with Salvini and American Cardinal Raymond Burke - both of whom are staunchly opposed to the pope's open border policies. The three met in Rome while Bannon was visiting to celebrate Italy's new populist coalition government run by Salvini, Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
During his visit, Bannon took a side-trip to the 800-year-old Trisulti monastery under development by conservative UK catholic Benjamin Harnwell - who runs a conservative Catholic organization, the Dignitatis Humanae Institute - "founded to help Christian politicians defend their faith in the public square."
The monastery will host events with speakers like Bannon and Burke and conservative Christian leaders.
Harnwell and his organization are an important connection between Bannon and Burke. Harnwell is the one who first introduced the two, according to a New York Times article that is displayed on Harnwell’s website. Bannon spoke at one of Harnwell’s’ conferences by grainy video link back in 2014 during which he warned that the migration exodus would lead to a rise in populism. Burke was the keynote speaker the year before. -Daily Beast
And while Bannon and his allies doubt that nationalist parties will gain a majority of seats in EU parliament, their goal is to capture at least a third of the seats in order to "command by negation," according to Bannon, which will allow them to disrupt "integrationist" policies.
"We want to take the battle to the heart of the EU," Modrikamen said in an interview at his home in a residential Brussels district that also serves as his party’s headquarters. "We want to be the voice of the ordinary guys who feel betrayed by the elites."