Former Trump adviser on European tour – plans to set up new European populist ‘Movement’

Leading figures in ‘The Movement’, an alliance of European populists – (left to right) former Trump adviser Steve Bannon; Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini; and Brussels-based Jewish lawyer Mischael Modrikamen

Steve Bannon, the controversial former adviser to President Trump and former executive chairman of Breitbart News, is touring European capitals this week and meeting a range of political leaders.

Bannon plans to develop a pan-European alliance of populist forces under the label ‘The Movement’. This was officially registered in January by a Belgian lawyer called Mischael Modrikamen, who is a well-known figure in the Jewish community in Brussels and leader of a tiny party called the People’s Party.

Modrikamen is a friend and ally of Nigel Farage, through whom he was introduced to Bannon.

The most important figures already signed up to ‘The Movement’ are Italian deputy prime minister and interior minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-immigration Lega, and his ally Giorgia Meloni, leader of Fratelli d’Italia (‘Brothers of Italy’), the most significant of several groups that grew out of the former fascist party MSI.

Steve Bannon with Giorgia Meloni last weekend at the conference of her ‘post-fascist’ party Fratelli d’Italia

Bannon spoke at the Fratelli d’Italia conference in Rome last weekend. He told an enthusiastic crowd: “Trump and Brexit and [the Italian general election in] March 2018 are all inextricably linked: it’s a rejection of the way things are and it’s a way forward … it’s the little guy saying ‘we have a better idea’ … and the first thing is a rejection of what the elites have foisted on Western civilization.”

After Rome, Bannon went on to Prague where he met Czech President Milos Zeman, who comes from a very different political tradition to Bannon’s Italian hosts. While Salvini’s roots are in regional separatism and Meloni’s are in the postwar development of Italy’s fascist tradition, President Zeman is one of the last of the old Eastern European politicians rooted in a version of socialism. A Communist party member until 1970, Zeman created the Social Democratic Party and was a centre-left Prime Minister for several years, but more recently has moved towards a radically anti-immigration populism, winning re-election as President earlier this year.

Like Bannon’s other allies, Zeman is closer to Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin than to the liberal elites who control the European Union.

 

 

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