Recently, the former Trump advisor and alt-right preacher Steve Bannon announced he will be campaigning for right wing nationalists across Europe, aiming to win a third of seats in the European Parliament at next year's European elections.
Well Steve, bring it on! We happily accept the challenge! In May 2019 at the ballot box, Europeans will face a clear choice about what kind of Europe they want to live in. A return to Europe's dark nationalist past, or a more unified, tolerant and democratic union of nations. My bet is Europeans will overwhelmingly show Bannon that we stand tall for our way of life and our values.
Steven Bannon and his European allies, like the governing Polish PiS government party, France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orban, Nigel Farage, Geert Wilders as well as Dutch Christen Unie/SGP, want to pit European people against each other and sow the seeds of division in our societies. But more than that, they aim to dismantle all progress we have achieved.
In their joint political agenda, set out in the manifesto “Restoring the Natural Order”, they reject modern values like gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, womens’ right to decide over their own bodies, stem cell research, freedom of religion and conscience, secularism, open and diverse societies, and more. In other words: they seek to turn back the clock. Women at the kitchen sink, gay people put back in the closet, the church ruling our private lives and middle aged white males holding all power.
Far-right nationalist populists have had notable successes: Trump's election victory, Brexit, the Hungarian and Polish governments’ attempts to break down the democratic rule of law. The interference of Bannon is not new. For years he has been building his European network, for example through the obscure think tank Dignitatis Humanae Institute. And while Orban has prompted a witch hunt for Soros, he embraces Bannon like a friend.
The question Europeans must now answer is this – will we just stand by and watch Bannon import his hateful nationalism and divisive culture war to our continent? Will we meekly accept that our way of life must disappear? We must resist and we must get moving.
In May 2019, there is a need for a broad pro-European progressive party in the political centre, offering a real alternative to voters. A broad alliance for an open and inclusive society, equality and freedom, offering a renewed vision of hope and unity, through the prism of the future, rather than at a nostalgic, rose-tinted past.
A powerful centrist movement, aiming for a strong European Union that will defend its citizens in today’s world; that will protect our rights and freedoms, and that will promote our European values. In short: a European Union that safeguards our way of life.
In May 2019, progressive forces must climb the barricades with conviction and inspiration. Europe is too important to be left to populists.
Sophia in ’t Veld is a Dutch politician in the Democrats 66 party and a Member of the European Parliament
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies