Budapest, Hungary – In an interview with private broadcaster RTL, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former political strategist Steve Bannon said that he plans to work with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán ahead of next year’s European Parliament elections.
The announcement hasn’t been confirmed by government officials yet.
Former chairman of right-wing media Breitbart and widely viewed as the main architect of Trump’s America First policy, Steve Bannon has been touring Europe in recent months as part of his organisation’s – called ‘The Movement’ – attempt to unite Europe’s right-wing nationalist and populist movements in the run-up to next year’s EU elections. Contrary to popular belief, The Movement wasn’t founded by Steve Bannon but by Belgian lawyer and politician Mischaël Modrikamen in 2016. Bannon only joined last summer, a few months after being evicted from Trump’s White House.
Bannon’s new European endeavor has yielded uneven results. Many far-right EU politicians, in France, Germany Belgium or the UK have kept Bannon at arm’s length and remain sceptical about his involvement in EU affairs. The Brussels-based Movement itself has faced strong criticism, with many commentators and politicians seeing it only as a vehicle designed to revive the career of Bannon and other soon-to-be out-of-office European politicians, including former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
Last September, his meeting with Czech President Milos Zeman ended abruptly due to strong disagreements regarding Bannon’s protectionism and hard-line stance on China.
Trump’s former campaign manager however did win the support of Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and has also made an appearance at a number of far-right rallies and conventions across Europe, including alongside National Rally leader Marine Le Pen in France at the beginning of the year.
He held a public lecture in Budapest last May, during which he met with Prime Minister Orban – whom he repeatedly praised and called “Trump before Trump” – and said he visited Hungary a couple of times since then to meet with Hungary’s strongman and his aides – meetings that were not made public.
“If I could, we would headquarter the movement in Budapest. I love it so much there. But obviously it is not practical. We will spend a lot of time in Hungary between now and election day”, Bannon told RTL. He also gave more details about his involvement in Hungary: “John McLaughlin who is my pollster in the United States is going to run this overall polling effort in Europe, he is also the pollster for Orban in Hungary”.
Bannon said he should visit Budapest again in late November.