Populism is weakening the European system regardless!

Robin Chun and Sebastian Aceves

Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist of the Trump administration, wants to unite the populists efforts in Europe. He does so by combining the powers of populist parties throughout Europe in a new organisation called ’The Movement’. Italy’s Matteo Salvini’s Legal and Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy already joined in. This European populist organisation may also have impact in European cities like Amsterdam.

       Photo: Robin Chun and Sebastian Aceves

Young ‘right-wingers’ in Amsterdam believe that: ”populism is weakening the European system regardless”. They agree with some aspects of the populist movements on themes like immigration and open borders, but they remain skeptical as well. Gary, member of the FvD-youthparty and student Public Administration thinks that: “it will have some influence on national politics within each member state but not in any local politics, especially when you don’t have a majority in the local councils”.

Bannon claims that ’Europe is central to the global populist revolt’, and is trying to help out populist parties in the run-up to the European Parliament elections in the spring of 2019, he told Nieuwsuur on September 23rd. Geert Wilder’s the leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom, is also on the list of people Bannon wants to meet. Forum for Democracy’s leader, Thierry Baudet, is also expected to be Bannon´s list.

Impact on local politics?

We spoke with two FvD supporters and students of Public Administration at the HvA. They believe Bannon’s organisation can make a difference on European level but it probably won’t make a big difference on local politics.

Gary, FvD-youthparty member told us that he doesn’t know whether Bannon approached the Forum for Democracy or its leader yet: “I don’t think he did”. He told us that: “The parties Bannon seeks to involve are very popular in their own countries, with each party having a high certainty of gaining seat in the European parliament. However, it’s apparent that you have a bigger chance of achieving your goals when you’re united. Together you’re stronger, so they have to form a big faction in European parliament. I think that they have a significantly bigger chance if they unite”, says Gary.

However, he doesn’t think that it’ll have a huge influence on local politics. “I believe It probably won’t have any effects on the political parties in Amsterdam. Also, FvD wants to distance themselves from the label of ‘populist’, so I highly doubt whether we will work together or not, but you’ll never know what the future holds” he says.

Another FvD-supporter and student Public Administration at the HvA, who asked to remain anonymous, believes populist parties haven’t delivered a concrete plan yet to gain more ground or a better following. “I don’t think that uniting populists will not further their political agenda that much”, he says. For instance, the Dutch PVV and the French Front National are already working together but “their ‘alliance’ is more symbolic than executive, not delivering a lot of policy changes”.

On the other hand, the student considers right-wing European parties offer new alternatives to resolve social issues as immigration for whom disapproval the hegemonic government decisions: “It doesn’t matter; they’re weakening the European system regardless”, he says. It is parties like PVV and Front Nationale that either promote leaving the EU with a Nexit or Fexit, or they blame the ‘failing’ EU-system, weakening its support from EU-citizens¨.

The student thinks that, although they’re targeting ‘swing-voters’, there will not be a lot of support from voter outside of their own following. Claiming that: “with the divisions in society nowaday, it’s easier to gain the votes of the ‘disenfranchised’, especially with the growing anger at mismanagement of the immigration crisis”. The whole system is out of balance, making it relatively easy to manipulate this anger.  

The Forum for Democracy party was founded in 2016 by his leader Thierry Baudet. The right-wing party offers a conservative alternative. They obtained two seats in the Dutch House of Representatives in the 2017 national elections and one seat in the local elections in Amsterdam. Nowadays, the ‘new-comer party’ achieved to get a significant following. Boasting over a staggering 25 thousand FvD-members, according to the Repositories Documentation Centre of Dutch Political Parties.

Steve Bannon is a former Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to president Donald Trump in 2017. After leaving the administration in august 2017, he wanted to become “the infrastructure, globally, for the global populist movement” (New York Times; march 9th 2018). Now he’s supporting populist/conservative movements in Europe, hoping to gain ground in the European Elections that will be held in the spring of 2019.


New York Times; Jason Horowitz; march 9th 2018: “Steve Bannon is done wrecking the american establishment. Now he wants to destroy europe”.

Nieuwsuur; september 23th 2018; Met ‘The Movement’ wil Steve Bannon Europa’s populisten verenigen.