Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s onetime chief White House strategist, has turned his focus to Europe, with a mission to unite nationalist movements across the EU and smash the political establishment.
He popped up in Rome this year to support Matteo Salvini of the anti-immigrant Northern League in the Italian elections. He told a packed event in Switzerland that “the populist wave in Europe is not over: it’s just getting started.” In July, he told the Daily Beast that he was moving to Europe to set up a nonprofit called “The Movement,” to unite right-wing groups into alliance and create a revolt in the EU.
Bannon’s rallying cry hasn’t been met with much enthusiasm. Today (Aug. 11), Alexander Gauland, co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party dismissed Bannon’s project, telling Funke Mediengruppe, “We’re not in America.”
Gauland, who has likened the Nazi era to “a bird poop” in Germany’s “glorious history,” said Bannon had basically no hope of uniting the right in the EU.
“The interests of the anti-establishment parties in Europe are quite divergent,” Gauland said. “Mr. Bannon will not succeed in forging an alliance of the like-minded for the European elections.”
A Bertelsmann Institute survey found last year that populism in Germany was different than in the US. Germany’s right-wing populists are often “disappointed democrats” and their key obsession is refugees.
“All the themes that are normally mobilizing for populists like criticism of globalization, Europe, bringing down the political elite or radical criticism of the establishment…these are all things that play absolutely no role in Germany,” said Robert Vehrkamp from the Bertelsmann Institute.
Alice Weidel, parliamentary leader of the AfD, had met with Bannon in Zurich in March for media advice. But Gauland said today he saw no possibility of working together with him.