In a relatively clear severing of ties, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is distancing herself from former White House strategist Steve Bannon's 'Movement', saying only Europeans will save the continent.
This is quite a shift from her remarks in July, when we noted that Bannon was looking to establish a populist stronghold within European Parliament which could gain as many as a third of the lawmakers following next May's Europe-wide elections. As the Beast pointed out,
A united populist bloc of that size would have the ability to seriously disrupt parliamentary proceedings, potentially granting Bannon huge power within the populist movement.
Depending on electoral law in individual countries, the foundation may be able to take part in some campaigns directly while bolstering other populist groups indirectly. -Daily Beast
“I didn't get the idea until Marine Le Pen invited me to speak at Lille at the Front National,” recalled Bannon. “I said, ‘What do you want me say?’”
Le Pen responded: “All you have to say is, ‘We're not alone.’”
But now, as AP reports, Le Pen said Monday, at a meeting in Rome, that she wanted to clarify “lots of conjecture” about Bannon’s reported plans to set up his foundation.
Le Pen said Bannon is not European, but rather an American who wants to create a think tank. She said:
“But we, and we alone, are the ones who will shape the political force that is born from the European elections, because we are attached to our liberty, attached to our sovereignty and we together...
...the representatives of the different peoples of Europe, are the ones who will shape the political forces that aim specifically to save Europe.”
However, as we noted previously, "The Movement," founded by Belgian politician Mischaël Modrikamen, will highlight the importance of national sovereignty, strong borders, strict limits on migration and staunch opposition to radical Islamic terror.
The Movement, which plans to hold a founding convention in Brussels in late November, will also serve as a link between allies in 27 EU countries and the pro-Trump freedom caucus in the US.
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 impact 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 across 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. -Daily Beast
Right-wing populist parties have made significant electoral gains throughout Europe over the last several years, following spikes in violent crime and terrorism correlated to the influx of unchecked migrants primarily from North Africa. Thus far, these movements have been largely uncoordinated. Bannon and The Movement aim to fix this, and they're putting the plan in motion.
And while Bannon and his allies doubt that nationalist parties will gain a majority of seats in EU parliament, their goal is to capture at least a third of the seats in order to "command by negation," according to Bannon, which will allow them to disrupt "integrationist" policies.
"We want to take the battle to the heart of the EU," Modrikamen said in an interview at his home in a residential Brussels district that also serves as his party’s headquarters. "We want to be the voice of the ordinary guys who feel betrayed by the elites."
For now, it seems like they will do it without France's far-right party... though we suspect this is more posturing by Le Pen as she joined Italy's far-right Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini in Rome on Monday to declare that they are the anti-establishment movement within the European Union.
“We are against the enemies of Europe - Juncker and Moscovici - shut away in the Brussels bunker,” Salvini said.
“The politics of austerity of the last few years has increased Italian debt and impoverished Italy.”
The statement was made during a joint press conference with LePen who visited Rome on Monday.
“Together with Matteo (Salvini) we are not fighting against Europe but against the European Union which has become a totalitarian system and we fight against the European Union in order to save the true Europe,” Le Pen said.
A few days earlier, Salvini contemptuously refereed to Juncker and his alleged drinking saying he was ignoring him because “I talk to sober people”.