Populist firebrand Steve Bannon, Trump's former White House strategist, has shifted his focus to Italy for the country's election, which took place Sunday and plunged national politics into deep uncertainty.
Bannon's mission? To help spread populism in Europe by supporting Italy's right-wing parties, the largest of which saw its share of the vote increase dramatically. His visit to the country is part of a European tour focused on galvanizing the movement's spread throughout the continent.
Italy's election "epitomizes everything, it is pure populism," the former Trump campaign chief told the New York Times from Rome last week. He called Italy the "leader," telling the newspaper in an interview: "The Italian people have gone farther, in a shorter period of time, than the British did for Brexit and the Americans did for Trump."
The anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the right-wing Lega party were widely considered to be the main victors on Sunday, with M5S gaining an unprecedented 33 percent of the vote and the center-right coalition, which included Lega, winning 37 percent. Of the parties in that coalition, Lega won the greatest amount of votes at 18 percent, its highest ever.
Both parties claimed victory over the weekend, while the result leaves Italy with a hung parliament and no clear path forward for the formation of a government.
The vote was a harsh repudiation of the center-left alliance that had been leading Italy since 2013, which trailed behind at 23 percent of the vote. Before the results came out, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni called the election "a contest against populism."