It’s no secret Steve Bannon has his sights set on Europe. The former White House chief strategist announced last month that he would be moving to Brussels to start a new movement—a think tank called The Movement—to support Europe’s right-wing populist parties ahead of the European Parliament’s elections next spring. His goal, Bannon told the Daily Beast at the time, is to create a “supergroup” of united right-wing populist lawmakers within the chamber—a feat that will require the involvement of at least 25 lawmakers representing at least seven European Union member states.
But Europe’s right-wing populist parties may not share his grand ambitions. Alexander Gauland, the co-leader of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, revealed in a weekend interview that his party wouldn’t be involved with Bannon’s efforts to unite European populist parties—and appeared to question whether anyone really could unite them. “Mr. Bannon will not succeed in forging an alliance of the like-minded for the European elections,” he said, noting that the interests of these parties “are quite divergent.”
Gauland isn’t wrong. Though many of Europe’s right-wing populist parties share similar views on issues such as immigration and the economy—which fueled the electoral rise of parties like the AfD in Germany, the Five Star Movement in Italy, and the Fidesz party in Hungary—it doesn’t necessarily mean they have the same political goals. Indeed, Germany’s latest immigration scandal proved just how tenuous such political connections can be when they’re put to the test: Though populist ruling parties in Italy, Austria, and Hungary boast hard-line anti-immigration policies, all three were quick to oppose Germany’s efforts to turn away immigrants at its border, citing the impact it would have on their own borders. National politics, not European politics, took precedence in that case.