Steve Bannon’s plan to turn the monastery in Lazio region into a “populist” school, is now more or less back on track. An administrative court in region has overturned a decision by the Ministry of Culture to revoke the 19-year lease handed to the group but now a new ruling from the Italian Council of state could “disturb” the plans of President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist’s.
Brussels Diplomatic spoke with Italian Member of Parliament Nicola Fratoianni ( Si-Sinistra Italiana) on the controversial case of the Trisulti monastery.
By David Barry
What is your opinion about the controversial assignment of Trisulti to the DHI (Dignitas Humanae Institute) which is linked to former Donald Trump aide Steve Bannon?
Since the beginning, I started fighting together with the local communities against the appointment of an extraordinary place which is important from the historical, artistic and cultural point of view. In the appointment of Trisulti Monastery to the DHI (Dignitas Humanae Institute) first we think that this organization didn’t respect the terms written in the calls for bids. Now there is ruling from the TAR ( administrative regional court ) that goes against what we expected, we respect that ruling and we hope in the future ruling on this matter by the Council of State ( Consiglio di Stato). Apart from this legal issue related to assignment, we refuse to accept that the Trisulti Monastery, which is place where cultures meet and a shelter could become the European school of populist imagined by Steve Bannon. This is a political and cultural operation that we criticize and that we think it is a wrong because it is not related to the vocation of that place and to the reason why that place was put on tender notice. What is also worrying us is the opacity on who are sponsors of the DHI, we only know the name of Steve Bannon.
Can you tell me who is supporting your political initiative on this very matter?
First I can tell you that several citizens and local associations are against this project then on the political side some member of the 5 stars movement have supported this “battle”. The former Undersecretary to the Ministry of Culture, Gianluca Vacca stressed the need to clarify if all the conditions of the tender were fulfilled by the DHI. The political forces supporting the government are convinced that that operation was a wrong one now we have to wait the next ruling by the council of state.
What are your concerns about the activities and the political message by Steve Bannon?
Since long time Mr. Bannon is trying to associate several European populist and right wing parties, a cultural, economic and social right wing project that is also supported by the internal opponents of Pope Francis that are against the social message of openness and welcoming of the migrants just to give an example. This way of doing politics I think is regressive also from the cultural point of view, I think this is dangerous political operation that we should oppose. I think that at the moment Europe and the entire would needs policies that are exactly the contrary of what the modern populists, like Bannon, are promoting. We saw also that during the Covid pandemic in countries with similar populist ideas like the one of Boris Johnson, Bolsonaro and Trump, the management of the heath crisis was a disaster.
As Bannon is representative of the “Trumpism”, what are the political elements that we should avoid?
In Italy there is nothing that we should follow from the political doctrine of Trump, the fight he engaged on environmental issues, the Paris agreement and the groups fighting for against the climate change. Also on the individual rights, on the recent cases of racism against Afro-Americans in the US, Trump has a position in this context which is dangerous and regressive because his tolerant attitude towards the white supremacy ideas.
Can you tell us a final comment on this matter?
I think Bannon is very effective in his communication strategy especially on the web wires but I also think that his political project is ended up clearly into a crisis.