This disinterest on the part of some European parties contrasts sharply with the embrace that at least one of those same parties extended to Bannon just months ago. In March, Le Pen invited Bannon to address her party’s two-day Congress in Lille, during which he urged her party faithful to “let them call you racist … because every day we get stronger, and they get weaker.” Bannon has made similar appearances across his tour of the continent, making stops in Rome, Prague, and, more recently, the United Kingdom.
But there’s a reason some of these parties may want to keep Bannon at arm’s length. In France, Le Pen has long struggled to rebrand her party (formerly known as the National Front) and dissociate it from the more extreme elements of its past—a legacy defined by a nationalist, anti-immigration platform, and tainted by anti-Semitism, homophobia, and xenophobia. By inviting Bannon, Le Pen seemed to be signaling to her supporters that his success in helping get President Trump’s “America First” policy into the White House could be replicated in France. But the invitation also served as a double-edged sword for Le Pen: By having a controversial figure like Bannon at her side, she seemed to be setting back her own “de-demonization” efforts.