Steve Bannon’s Populist Party
Le plan de Steve Bannon pour les prochaines élections européennes.
En juillet dernier, Steve Bannon, l’ancien conseiller stratégique de Donald Trump, annonçait vouloir créer « Le Mouvement », une organisation visant à rassembler les partis d’extrême droite européens afin d’influencer le résultat des élections de mai 2019. Mais l’enthousiasme n’a pas été au rendez-vous dans les partis concernés. Un journaliste de The Atlantic Online nous explique pourquoi.
It’s no secret Steve Bannon has his sights set on Europe. The former White House chief strategist announced [in July] that he would be moving to Brussels to start a new movement—a think tank called The Movement—to support Europe’s right-wing populist parties ahead of the European Parliament’s elections next spring. His goal, Bannon told the Daily Beast at the time, is to create a “supergroup” of united right-wing populist lawmakers within the chamber—a feat that will require the involvement of at least 25 lawmakers representing at least seven European Union member states. 2. But Europe’s right-wing populist parties may not share his grand ambitions. Alexander Gauland, the co-leader of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, revealed in an interview that his party wouldn’t be involved with Bannon’s efforts to unite European populist parties—and appeared to question whether anyone really could unite them. “Mr. Bannon will not succeed in forging an alliance of the like-minded for the European elections,” he said.
DIFFERENT POLITICAL GOALS
3. Gauland isn’t wrong. Though many of Europe’s right-wing populist parties share similar views on issues such as immigration and the economy—which fueled the electoral rise of parties like the AfD in Germany, the Five Star Movement in Italy, and the Fidesz party in Hungary—it doesn’t necessarily mean they have the same political goals. Indeed, Germany’s latest immigration scandal proved just how tenuous such political connections can be when they’re put electoral rise percée électorale (rise montée, progression) / indeed en effet / tenuous ténu, mince /
to the test: Though populist ruling parties in Italy, Austria, and Hungary boast hard-line anti-immigration policies, all three were quick to oppose Germany’s efforts to turn away immigrants at its border, citing the impact it would have on their own borders.
4. AfD isn’t the only party that has called into question Bannon’s efforts. In France, a spokesman for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally said The Movement would be no more than “a good, non-partisan tool box” for Europeans. “Bannon is an American and has no place in a European political party,” Jérôme Rivière, the National Rally’s international spokesman, told Politico [in July].
5. This disinterest on the part of some European parties contrasts sharply with the embrace that at least one of those same parties extended to Bannon just months ago. In March, Le Pen invited Bannon to address her party’s two-day Congress in Lille. Bannon has made similar appearances across his tour of the continent, making stops in Rome, Prague, and, more recently, the United Kingdom.
6. But there’s a reason some of these parties may want to keep Bannon at arm’s length. In France, Le Pen has long struggled to rebrand her party (formerly known as the National Front) and dissociate it from the more extreme elements of its past. By inviting Bannon, Le Pen seemed to be signaling to her supporters that his success in helping get President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy into the White House could be replicated in France. But, by having a controversial figure like Bannon at her side, she also seemed to be setting back her own “de-demonization” efforts.
7. The AfD would have similar reasons for rejecting Bannon’s advances. Though the party has enjoyed record popularity in recent weeks, it still has to demonstrate that it can go toe to toe with its national rivals. Cozying up to a figure like Bannon, who has long been associated with the political margins, may do the party more harm than good. “Trump is incredibly unpopular in Germany among ordinary Germans,” Matthew Goodwin, a professor of politics at the University of Kent and a co-author of the forthcoming book National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy, told me.
8. Goodwin explained that there is another, perhaps bigger, reason right-wing populist parties in Europe may be less inclined to partner with Bannon: He’s simply too late. “Many of [Europe’s] populist parties have tens of thousands of members, they are already established. They don’t necessarily believe the Trump playbook is something they need in order to find success.”
Steve Bannon is starting a new movement to support Europe’s right-wing populist parties.
Steve Bannon and Marine Le Pen at the Rassemblement National party convention in Lille, March 10, 2018.