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WorldBannon’s Populists, Once a ‘Movement,’ Keep Him at Arm’s Length

03:40  27 may  2019
03:40  27 may  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

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He was kept at arm ’ s length by allies, perhaps most surprisingly even by those from the far right whom he has tried for months to pound into a Europe-wide But his populists have also quickly internalized Mr. Bannon ’ s most important lesson: that media attention creates its own political momentum.

“Lobbyists like Mr. Bannon , close to the American executive, are saying it,” he said. In fact, the far right’ s ties to Mr. Bannon had handed Mr. Macron a golden opportunity to depict Ms. Le Pen’ s party as controlled by foreigners. That is an odd and vulnerable place for a nationalist party to be.

Bannon’s Populists, Once a ‘Movement,’ Keep Him at Arm’s Length© Luca Bruno/Associated Press A rally organized by the Italian anti-immigration League party leader Matteo Salvini, with leaders of other European nationalist parties in Milan this month.

PARIS — Stephen K. Bannon, the millionaire former Trump adviser turned rabble rouser of European populists, settled into a plush set of rooms this week in Paris at the Bristol Hotel, where suites run up to $32,000 a night.

An unopened bottle of champagne in front of him, he presented himself as a man of the people and promoted Europe’s right-wing and populist parties even as voting was underway for the European Parliament — “the most important” election in Europe, he said in an interview on Thursday.

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The Movement is a Brussels-based far-right organization founded by Steve Bannon of the United States to promote right-wing populist and economic nationalist groups in Europe that are opposed to

To keep someone or something at arm ’ s length is to maintain an emotional distance as to avoid familiarity or intimacy; to dissociate yourself from A variant is to hold at arm ’ s length . This expression is meant to refer to people or things that cannot be completely avoided in the physical sense, but are

For months, Mr. Bannon has traveled around Europe, presenting himself as the linchpin of a populist revolution. But he was in Paris as nothing more than an “adviser-counselor” to Marine Le Pen, the far-right nationalist leader. “These people don’t need my help,” Mr. Bannon said.

Bannon’s Populists, Once a ‘Movement,’ Keep Him at Arm’s Length© Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images Mr. Bannon, center, with Marine Le Pen, center right, the far-right leader in France, at the National Front annual congress in Lille last year.

That was good, because they no longer seemed to want his help, either.

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All week in Paris, Mr. Bannon was hissed at by enemies, dominated the airwaves and caused an eruption in the French political class for meddling in the country’s affairs. He was kept at arm’s length by allies, perhaps most surprisingly even by those from the far right whom he has tried for months to pound into a Europe-wide populist rebellion.

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Stephen Kevin Bannon (born November 27, 1953) is an American media executive, political figure, strategist, former investment banker, and the former executive chairman of Breitbart News.

Mr. Bannon courted politicians who share his dark, populist worldview of a ruling class preying on working Americans and “the Judeo-Christian He once suggested to a colleague that perhaps only property owners should be allowed to vote. In an email to a Breitbart colleague in 2014, he dismissed

Bannon’s Populists, Once a ‘Movement,’ Keep Him at Arm’s Length© Olivier Hoslet/EPA, via Shutterstock The European Parliament in Brussels.

These elections, taking place from Thursday to Sunday, were the big moment when Mr. Bannon predicted that his assembled forces would storm the barricades of the European Union bureaucracy — except that now that it has arrived, many of them seemed to have moved on without him.

[Follow our coverage of European election results.]

Mr. Bannon’s presence in France had become so toxic that Ms. Le Pen, the leader of the former National Front, rebranded as the National Rally, did not meet him. She told the French news media that he “was playing no role in the campaign,” though Mr. Bannon did meet with some of her associates at the Bristol.

For a year, in often similarly lush hotels across Europe — in Italy, Britain, Hungary, the Czech Republic — Mr. Bannon had promised polling for his far-right fellow travelers. He promised to hook populist parties up with financiers. He promised experts in campaign data mining. He promised a global clubhouse — based in an associate’s Brussels mansion.

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Mr Bannon says neither he nor The Movement would presume to choose candidates or offer campaign strategy or funding. He simply wants to provide services that he believes can help populist and nationalist parties organise, grow, win elections and ultimately restructure the European Union into a

( Bannon declined to speak about The Movement to VICE News. His spokesman said he preferred to let Modrikamen’ s comments ”stand on their own Bannon announced his ambitious plan in July to fuel a populist revolt in Europe through Brussels-based nonprofit foundation The Movement — with the

Bannon’s Populists, Once a ‘Movement,’ Keep Him at Arm’s Length© John Thys/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images President Emmanuel Macron of France said he “saw for the first time connivance between the nationalists, and foreign interests, whose goal is dismantling Europe. Lobbyists like Mr. Bannon, close to the American executive, are saying it.”

“All I’m trying to be,” Mr. Bannon said in a March interview in the Hotel Grand Savoia in Milan, “is the infrastructure, globally, for the global populist movement.”

But in the homestretch before the elections, a distance began to grow. This month, Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigrant League party and one of Mr. Bannon’s earliest recruits, held a rally in Milan of European populists, including Ms. Le Pen.

In many ways, it seemed a manifestation of the movement Mr. Bannon had been prophesizing in his endless media scrums. But Mr. Bannon was not there.

“We don’t need him,” Jörg Meuthen, a leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, said after the rally.

The reasons Mr. Bannon is not needed now have much to do with the contradictions of his “Nationalist Internationale,” as critics call his movement.

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What does keep at arm ' s length expression mean? Definitions by the largest Idiom Dictionary. COMMON If one person or organization is at arm ' s length from another, they are not closely connected, for example because it would be wrong for them to influence one another.

Bannon is moving to Europe to set up The Movement , a populist foundation to rival George Soros and spark a right-wing revolt across the continent. LONDON— Steve Bannon plans to go toe-to-toe with George Soros and spark a right-wing revolution in Europe. Trump’ s former White House chief advisor

From the start it was an incongruous effort by an outsider to stitch together far-right nationalists who all give pride of place to their own countries. Beyond watering down the European Union, the common interests of a bunch of leaders all wanting to put their own country first don’t always easily coincide.

But his populists have also quickly internalized Mr. Bannon’s most important lesson: that media attention creates its own political momentum. And for a while, Mr. Bannon brought that media attention with him wherever he went.

He showered it on the European populists, and in return they gave him a new battlefield, one where he was not a casualty — he had been fired by President Trump — but a player, and where he could get more press for himself.

“I’m just an American in Paris,” Mr. Bannon said as he held court at the Bristol, grinning at the obvious understatement.

He declined to reveal how much he had paid for his set of rooms, denied that it contradicted his tribune-of-the-people persona, and insisted that the luxe was really all about “efficiency.”

Yet the stormy reaction to Mr. Bannon’s presence in Paris this week spoke volumes about a delicate moment he has helped create in America’s relations with Europe generally, and with France especially.

The presidency of Mr. Trump, his former boss who remains deeply unpopular in France, has infused the old alliance with insecurity and bitterness.

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The arm ' s length principle (ALP) is the condition or the fact that the parties to a transaction are independent and on an equal footing. Such a transaction is known as an " arm ' s - length transaction". It is used specifically in contract law to arrange an agreement that will stand up to legal scrutiny

Steve Bannon ’ s British sideshow. But there’s a reason some of these parties may want to keep Bannon at arm ’ s length . In France, Le Pen has long “The Movement will not necessarily be as significant as the movements that Europe already has. Many of these populist parties have tens of

Much of the ruckus that accompanied Mr. Bannon this week was based on a mutual misunderstanding — his lack of French gives him a sometimes shaky comprehension of local political life, and the French often have an equally fantastic notion of American politics.

Still, it all seemed a far cry from Mr. Bannon’s oft-stated grand design to engineer the federation of Europe’s far right. Even he barely spoke a word of it during an hour-plus interview.

“The idea of my being here as some kind of puppet master, it’s just not true,” he said. “I don’t talk to the president,” he said of Mr. Trump, and called Ms. Le Pen “just a personal friend and a colleague.”

Yet if Mr. Bannon’s goals were disruption and attention, he had richly succeeded, though possibly at the expense of his erstwhile far-right allies.

President Emmanuel Macron and the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy denounced him by name — which also served as a slight to Ms. Le Pen — and five current and former presidents of the French Parliament signed an angry op-ed condemning his “unwanted meddling.”

“To fight a Europe held responsible for all of our woes, we’re supposed to follow the orders delivered from a suite at a luxurious Paris hotel by a shadowy adviser to Donald Trump, recycled as a freelance lobbyist for the populist international,” they wrote.

“The nation, united, will not take orders,” they said.

Trying to drum up support for his own forces, Mr. Macron told local journalists that he “saw for the first time connivance between the nationalists, and foreign interests, whose goal is dismantling Europe.’’

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The most powerful figure in Italy’ s new populist government signed up on Friday with Steve Bannon , President Trump’ s former chief strategist, to help bring about a continentwide populist takeover during European Parliamentary elections next spring.

Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasise the idea of "the people" and often juxtapose this group against "the elite".

“Lobbyists like Mr. Bannon, close to the American executive, are saying it,” he said.

In fact, the far right’s ties to Mr. Bannon had handed Mr. Macron a golden opportunity to depict Ms. Le Pen’s party as controlled by foreigners. That is an odd and vulnerable place for a nationalist party to be.

“There is a strong, persistent anti-American vein,” said Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on far-right movements at the Fondation Jean Jaurès research institute in Paris. “And a great way to hit the National Rally is to portray it as the double-foreigners’ party” — American and Russian.

Mr. Lévy, for his part, stood on the steps of the Élysée Palace after a lunch with President Macron, declaring himself upset to see Europe “corrupted from the inside by little populist thugs manipulated by Mr. Bannon.”

Mr. Bannon chuckled. “French guys throwing their toys out of the pram,” he said.

The disdain is strictly mutual. Mr. Bannon concentrated much of his fire on Mr. Macron, insisting that the French leader was going to lose big in the European Parliament elections.

Mr. Macron, he said, “is a product of the system” — the globalist system of free-moving capital that had betrayed working-class voters, valiantly championed by Mr. Trump, in Mr. Bannon’s restless farrago.

As for himself, “I totally identify with the gilets jaunes,” Mr. Bannon said, referring to the Yellow Vest protesters whose often violent demonstrations over low wages and diminished expectations rocked Mr. Macron’s presidency for six months.

Mr. Bannon seemed to overlook the fact that the Yellow Vests have destroyed and vandalized symbols of excessive wealth in the heart of the capital. Had they been allowed anywhere near the Bristol — two blocks from the Élysée Palace in one of the most heavily protected zones in Paris — they might have trashed it.

Adam Nossiter reported from Paris, and Jason Horowitz from Rome.

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