Steve Bannon is taking his push for populism across the pond.
The former chief strategist to President Donald Trump is setting up a Brussels-based foundation called The Movement to conduct polling, messaging, data targeting and think-tank research for far-right politicians across Europe, he told The Daily Beast on Friday.
Bannon wants to create a right-wing “supergroup” within the European Parliament, he said, in order to help populists win 2019 parliamentary elections. He said he’ll spend half of his time in Europe after the U.S. midterm elections in November.
“I’d rather reign in hell, than serve in heaven,” Bannon told the news outlet, quoting John Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Right-wing movements are encroaching on mainstream European politics, evidenced by populist and far-right victories in national elections ― Italy Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Hungary leader Viktor Orban, for example. In addition, growing support for the far-right in countries like Germany threatens to upend the European political order.
“Italy is the beating heart of modern politics,” Bannon said, referring to the coalition government that has brought two anti-establishment parties to power. “If it works there it can work everywhere.”
Bannon has been laying groundwork in Europe for several months, appearing regularly at conferences and other events with some of the continent’s best-known far-right figures.
He told an audience at a conference for France’s National Front party in March that he predicted “victory after victory” for the far right over “globalists” ― a term extreme-right groups often use as an anti-Semitic slur suggesting Jewish control of financial institutions and media.
“Let them call you racist,” Bannon said. “Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativist. Wear it as a badge of honor. Because every day, we get stronger, and they get weaker.”