How Europe's populists are following the Steve Bannon playbook

Matteo Salvini takes a selfie after an election campaign rally at Duomo Square in Milan, Italy, on February 24.

(CNN)Ever since he left the White House, Steve Bannon has been scouring the world for new opportunities to promote his brand of populism: a revolt against liberal elites, migration and multiculturalism -- and the revival of the nation state.

Bannon, once Donald Trump's ideological sidekick, has found the perfect partner in Matteo Salvini, Italy's Interior Minister and leader of the League, one of two parties in the new coalition government in Rome.
Salvini is an admirer of Vladimir Putin, prefers social media to mainstream media, trumpets economic nationalism and makes controversial remarks about foreigners and migrants. He's ripped more than a few pages out of Trump's playbook. Even his election slogan was "Italians first."
    In the past week, as the United States has been consumed by the treatment of migrant families at the border, Salvini has closed Italian ports to rescue ships carrying migrants. It did him no harm in the polls. The League is two percentage points higher than at the beginning of June.
    Bannon encouraged the alliance between Salvini's League and the Five Star Movement.
    Just as Trump's supporters railed against illegal migrants crossing the Mexican border, so Italians were infuriated by Europe's disjointed response to the surge in migration across the Mediterranean, which left the countries where migrants landed dealing with most of the burden. More than 600,000 have landed in Italy since 2013.
    "The burden should have been shared," Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said this month.