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Italy's Salvini touts plan to 'save Europe' after Bannon talks

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File photo of Matteo Salvini. Photo: Vasily MAXIMOV / AFP
16:05 CEST+02:00
Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Saturday he wanted to be at the forefront of a movement to "save Europe", a day after meeting Steve Bannon as part of efforts to stoke pan-European populism.
Salvini, who has locked horns with the European Union as he pushes a hard line on migration, held talks with US President Donald Trump's controversial former advisor on Friday, alongside the head of a small far-right party from Belgian.
 
In comments about the meeting, Salvini said on Saturday that next year's elections for the bloc were a chance for "historical change and the last opportunity to save Europe".   
 
"We are working to be the main European parliamentary group and forget that sad socialist parable that has brought unemployment and insecurity," he added, speaking on the sidelines of a political and economic forum in the northern town of Cernobbio. 
 
Far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who was also at the Cernobbio conference, said anger stoked by immigration into Europe was an opportunity. 
 
"The chances for parties like us and the combining of forces will be historically stronger in the next few years in Europe," he added. 
 
Bannon has been increasingly visible in Europe in recent months, touting plans for a Brussels-based foundation called "The Movement" in Brussels to spark a populist rightwing revolt across the region.
 
"This will be the time for the populists to take over," Bannon said in a recent interview with the New York Times
 
His goal, he said, is not so much to win a majority of legislators, but to have enough populists to "command by negation". 
 
In an interview with the Daily Beast in July, Bannon said he had held talks with right-wing groups across the continent, from Britain's Nigel Farage and members of Marine Le Pen's Front National (recently renamed Rassemblement National) in the West to Hungary's Viktor Orban.
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