Trump's former White House chief advisor told The Daily Beast 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 elections next spring.
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 effects 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 throughout 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.
He envisions a right-wing “supergroup” within the European Parliament that could attract as many as a third of the lawmakers after next May's Europe-wide elections. A united populist bloc of that sizing would have the ability to seriously disrupt parliamentary proceedings, potentially granting Bannon huge power within the populist movement.
After being forced out of the White House following internal wranglings that would subsequently surface in the book Fire and Fury, Bannon is now reveling in chances to plot his new European empire.” I x27 ;d instead reign in hell, than serve in heaven ,” he said, rephrasing John Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost.
The Movement's headquarters are expected to be located in Brussels, Belgium, where they will start hiring staff in coming months. It is expected that there will be fewer than 10 full-time faculty ahead of the 2019 elections, with a polling expert, a communications person, an office director and a researcher among the positions. The plan is to ramp that up to more like 25 people post-2 019 if the project has been a success.
Bannon are projected to expend 50 percent of his time in Europe–mostly in the field rather than the Brussels office–once the midterm elections in the U.S. are over in November.
The operation is also supposed to serve as a link between Europe's right-wing movements and the pro-Trump Freedom Caucus in the U.S. This week Paul Gosar( R-AZ) was its envoy to Bannon's operation in London.
Bannon and Raheem Kassam, a former Farage staffer and Breitbart editor, put in store 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.
” It was so successful that we x27; 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 .”
Having insured the shock right-wing victory with the Brexit referendum and Matteo Salvini's electoral success in Italy, which were achieved on relatively tight budgets, Bannon sees the opportunity to boost radically disparate nationalist parties by deploying a well-financed centralized operation are aiming to blow local opponents out of the water.
Up until now insurgent populist groups across Europe have often suffered from similar problems: absence of expertise and finances. Le Pen's party was kept afloat by Russian loans back in 2014, when French banks refused to extend lines of credit for the Front National. Le Pen was back in Moscow shaking Putin's hand before last year's French elections, which the NSA subsequently exposed had been hacked by the Russians .
The Movement plans to research and write detailed policy proposals that can be used by like-minded parties; commission pan-European or targeted polling; and share expertise in election war room methodology such as message discipline, data-led voter targeting and field operations. Depending on elections law in individual countries, the foundation may be able to take part in some campaigns directly while bolstering other populist groups indirectly.
” I didn x27; t get the idea until Marine Le Pen invited me to speak at Lille at the Front National ,” recollected Bannon.” I said,' What do you want me say ?'”
The response came back:” All you have to say is,' We x27; 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 neighboring countries–let alone on a global scale.
Bannon said the Front National recognized that he was ” the guy that runs round and understands us as a collective .”
Up on stage he told the crowd:” You fight for your country and they call you racist. But the days when those various kinds of insults work is over. The establishment media are the dogs of information systems. Every day, we become stronger and they become weaker. Let them call you racists, xenophobes or whatever else, wear these like a medal .”
The former Trump campaign manager believes the fuse for the global populist revolt–now led from Washington , D.C. by his former boss–was illuminated 10 years ago during the financial crisis and President Barack Obama's bailout of the broken financial sector. With income inequality growing, Bannon first championed Sarah Palin and then Donald Trump as vanquishers of the establishment elite who were capable of turning traditional politics on its head.
His next populist heroes can be found in Europe.
He ensures Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, as the perfect foil to help accelerate that dynamic in Europe.
Noting Trump's controversial decision to call out Merkel over her gas pipeline deal with Russia last week, Bannon said:” 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 .”
He describes Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, the French chairwoman who crushed Le Pen in a runoff election last year but has now been flagged in the polls, as vulnerable figureheads of establishment Europe. With Britain voting to cease the E.U ., Merkel and Macron's vision of a united continent is likely to be put to the test at next year's elections.
Bannon is convinced that the coming years will see a drastic breach from decades of European integration.” Right-wing populist nationalism is what will happen. That's what will govern ,” he told The Daily Beast.” You x27; re going to have individual nation nations with their own identities, their own borders .”
The grassroots movements are already in place waiting for someone to maximize their potential.” It will be instantaneous–as soon as we flip the switch ,” he said.
The sight of Brexit virtually upending the entire European Union with a campaign spending cap of PS7 million ($ 9 million) was a great inspiration.” When they told me the spending cap was PS7 million, I run,' You entail PS70 million? What the fucking ?!' PS7 million doesn't buy anything. It doesn't buy you Facebook data, it doesn't buy you ads, it doesn't do anything .”
” Dude! You only took the fifth largest economy in the world out of the EU for PS7 million !”
This week, British officials ruled that the Brexit campaign had not stuck to the legal limit–overspending by more than $600,000. There were also unofficial campaigns which expended additional millions arguing that Britain should leave the E.U.
Nonetheless, Britain's GDP is around $ 2.6 trillion and leaked government figures estimate that Brexit could wipe 10 percent off the above figures, entailing the effects of the democratic decision vastly dwarfs the dimensions of the investment by the campaign.
” The first thing they teach you at Harvard Business School is operating leverage ,” said Bannon. With his expertise, contacts and financial backing, he is convinced that he can have an outsized impact all across Europe.
Bannon went to Italy to observe the campaign earlier this year as populist parties surged in the polls despite their tiny operations.” Look at Five Star and the Northern League ,” he said.” They employed their own credit cards. They took control of the seventh largest economy in the world–on their charge card! It x27; s insane .”
The two anti-establishment parties reached a coalition agreement that stimulated Matteo Salvini deputy prime minister and put him in charge of the interior ministry a couple of months ago. He has since shut Italy's ports to NGO ships carrying rescued migrants and called for a census of the Roma community that may lead to mass expulsions. Last year, he called for a revolutionary crackdown on immigrants.” We require a mass cleansing, street by street, piazza by piazza, neighborhood by neighborhood ,” he said.
Bannon sees Salvini as a model for his future Movement partners to follow.” Italy is the beating heart of modern politics ,” he said.” If it runs there it can work everywhere .”
He are recognizing that the scale of his right-wing alliance could be limited by the extreme stances of some of The Movement's potential partners.” Some people may opt out since they are think some of the guys may be too immigrant focused ,” he conceded.
” We x27; re not looking to include any ethno-nationalist parties in this although guys like the Sweden Democrats or the True Finns are perfect casting .”
Kent Ekeroth of the Sweden Democrats was one of those who gratified Bannon in Central London in the last week. The party, which had its roots in the Neo-Nazi and white supremacist the two movements of the 1980 s, has shot up to nearly 20 percent in recent polls after adopting a more conventionally populist, anti-immigration message.
Jerome Riviere of Marine Le Pen's Front National( Rassemblement National since June) also made the pilgrimage to London's Mayfair, as did Mischael Modrikamen of the People's Party of Belgium, Nigel Farage of UKIP and Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Belang, a Flemish nationalist party formed in 2004 when its predecessor was found to be in breach of a Belgian law on racism and xenophobia .
Bannon said Farage and Le Pen would take the lead in figuring out the logistics of creating a new European parliamentary grouping that could be home to all of these parties and more.
Gosar, the Republican congressman, also to halt Bannon's London hotel. He was in Britain to attend a rally for the street protester and alt-right provocateur Tommy Robinson, who was recently to imprisonment for contempt of court for breaching reporting restrictions on a trial. During his journey, Gosar accused the British government of incarcerating Robinson as part of a cover up of rape perpetrated by” disgusting and depraved people “ from Muslim immigrant communities, which he described as a “scourge.”
Bannon's ambition is no less than to take a stranglehold on Europe in the same way that he believes Soros has been able to dominate proceedings in recent decades.
” Soros is brilliant ,” he said.” He x27; s evil but he x27; s brilliant .”
Bannon wants to fulfil that role on the right and he is not ashamed to assert his objectives.” I x27; m about winning. I x27; m about power ,” he said.” I want to win and then I want to effectuate change .”
He is not afraid of being caricatured in the way that Soros has been vilified by the right. He compared it to the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.” Look at Chris Wylie[ the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower ]. He is saying' Bannon attained psychological weapons .' He x27; s literally made me the most brilliant evil genius. I x27; m a Bond villain. I kind of dig it .”
Kassam, who worked closely with Bannon at Breitbart and followed him out the door of the populist news site, said The Movement was shaping up as a force that would subsume national politics.
” Forget your Merkels ,” said Kassam.” Soros and Bannon are going to be the two biggest players in European politics for years to come .”
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