Opinion

Populist-Leaning European Politicians Commend Bannon’s Initiative

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BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - The representatives of Europe's populist parties commended on Monday in their comments to Sputnik the initiative of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon to boost political movements in Europe in order to make the Europopulists get one third of all seats in the European parliament in the election next May.

On Friday, Bannon announced in an interview with The Daily Beast news outlet that he planned to establish a special institution in Europe called The Movement, which, he hoped, would manage to help the right-wing politicians to establish a supergroup within the European Parliament uniting at least one third of the legislative body's members after the 2019 May election.

Bannon's foundation, which is expected to be based in the Belgian capital of Brussels, will be "coaching" the European populists and will serve as a central source of polling, data targeting and think-thank research, with Bannon aspiring to compete with the Open Society Foundations (OSF), established by US-Hungarian businessman George Soros.

The idea of the non-profit's establishment has been discussed by Bannon and the leaders of the European politics over the past year, with talks having been held with Marine Le Pen's National Rally party (RN), formerly known as the National Front, Nigel Farage, the former head of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban as well as with the Polish movement.

PLAN TO RECEIVE THIRD OF SEATS IN 2019 ELECTION QUITE REALISTIC

The representatives of right-wing parties welcomed Bannon's plan to set up the foundation and agreed with his prediction that the lawmakers might represent a third of the total amount of the European Parliament's members after the 2019 election.

"We welcome of course the initiative of Steven Bannon, who is close to Marine Le Pen herself. The figure of a third of elected lawmakers that Bannon gives is ambitious but very realistic, when you see the results of elections here and there in Europe," Gilles Lebreton, a member of the European Parliament from the RN party, told Sputnik.

Janice Atkinson, the vice-chair of the European Parliament's Europe of Nations and Freedom Group (ENF), was also supportive of such projection.

"His prediction for a third of seats for Eurosceptics in the May 2019 elections is about right. I have been saying this for a couple of years now… I have every expectation that the voters will put their faith in to deliver a completely reformed EU, one of cooperating nations and freedom," Atkinson said, adding that she was happy to be a part of Bannon's army in the United Kingdom to "deliver a shock to Westminster."

According to ENF spokesman Tom Vandendriessche, during the 2019 European Parliament election voters will have to make a choice between globalism and patriotism, between national sovereignty and European institutions, between mass migration and the respect for national identities.

IDEAL ORGANIZER

Filip Dewinter, one of the leading members of Belgium's Vlaams Belang Flemish nationalist party, while talking to Sputnik paid special attention to Bannon's personality and his particular role in the process, saying that the European populists could not ask for a better coach.

"Bannon is the ideal organizer for this ‘Institute’ that he names ‘The Movement,’ because he is neutral… You cannot dream of a better godfather. Next to this, there is of course the need for the right parties to form a common group in the new European Parliament, after May 2019," Dewinter said, citing such parties as National Rally, UKIP and Orban's Christian Democratic group as future allies.

The spokesman for Germany's Alternative for Germany (AfG) party, Jorg Meuthen, was also very optimistic about the news of Bannon’s interest in Europe.

"The interest of Steve Bannon was communicated to me when I was in Russia for the World Cup. I am all for it. The idea interests the AfD… An alliance of the populists is clearly in the making and Bannon’s initiative will help, no doubt. I think we could have a sort of 'European League.' If such an alliance is formed, it would be inconceivable that the AfD would not be a member of it," Meuthen stated, adding that, despite the fact that the European populist parties did have some disagreements, it was still possible to find a solid base of common positions.

SOROS COUNTER-NARRATIVE

Certain politicians highlighted the role of the future foundation in confronting Soros' Open Society Foundations, providing financial support to various non-governmental organizations across the world.

"There is a need for a Soros counter-narrative. That man has spent billions in subverting democracy all over the world to his way of warped liberal left thinking," Atkinson said.

This view was shared by RN's Lebreton, who suggested that the Bannon's initiative will give birth to a movement that would act as OSF's antagonists.

"We believe that Steve Bannon and his friends can efficiently counter the lobby of Soros in Europe, though Soros spends billions to influence politics. There will be no interference: the RN and each of its European allies remain free to determine their programs and strategies," Lebreton said.

Lebreton added that Europopulist movements had a lot of policies in common and expressed hope that Bannon would defend them all in parallel.