Steve Bannon's (Lonely) European Vacation
2018 was another bad year for Steve Bannon.
After being booted from the White House and departing as executive chairperson of Breitbart News, which he turned into a platform for the racist “alt-right,” Bannon struggled to remain relevant by traveling overseas. In Europe, his ventures failed time and again as he was rejected by most European far-right parties.
July 15, 2018
Bannon was caught on tape insulting a radio host and clashing with former United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage over Bannon’s support for then-jailed anti-Muslim activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, known under his pseudonym, Tommy Robinson.“You guys hate Tommy Robinson. You hate him because he’s a working class guy. You’re one of these f------ elites that hate him,” Bannon told a radio station. “Tommy Robinson is the f------ backbone of this country.”
July 20, 2018
Steve Bannon announced he would appropriate a foundation based in Brussels, called The Movement, to bolster far-right anti-European Union parties ahead of the EU parliamentary elections. The announcement was largely met with skepticism: The ruling party Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice party, PiS) in Poland rejected the offer to work with Bannon, saying this was “an offer for those who want to break the union,” and, “this is not for us.” Gerolf Annemans, from Belgium’s far-right Vlaams Belang party, said the project appeared “poorly organized” and worried Bannon would use it to employ his friends. In France, a Rassemblement National member declared: “Bannon is American and has no place in a European political party.”
July 23, 2018
Bannon’s offer of support to European far-right parties prompted the party secretary of the far-right Finns Party to say she would decline his help. “I can’t think of what kind of added value this type of support would bring,” the Finnish politician said.
July 24, 2018
The representative of Sweden Democrats told a Danish newspaper: “We aren’t following Steve Bannon’s political work. He as a person … is of no interest to us.”
Aug. 11, 2018
Alexander Gauland of the far-right German party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD, Alternative for Germany) said of Bannon, “We’re not in America. The interests of the anti-establishment parties in Europe are quite divergent.” Another party member previously declared, “coaching from outside the EU — we basically do not need.”
Oct. 8, 2018
Marine Le Pen, leader of the French Rassemblement National (National Rally), emphasized at a press conference: “Bannon is not from any European country, he is American.” She added: “It will be us, only us, who will structure the political force that will result from the elections in Europe.”
Nov. 21, 2018
The Guardian reported Bannon will be prevented from financing campaigns in nine of the 13 countries he is targeting, due to existing laws. Even Bannon’s business partner cannot receive money from The Movement, an experience he described as “a bit frustrating.” Given a lack of allies and legal restrictions, Italy and the Netherlands are the only two countries where The Movement could potentially do work. When confronted with the research, Bannon said he is seeking legal advice.
Photo by Philippe Huguen/Getty Images/Agence France-Presse