Published: Thu, August 02, 2018

Macron faces no confidence votes amid security officer scandal - Ireland

Macron faces no confidence votes amid security officer scandal - Ireland

Although the government tried to handle the scandal, Macron's disgraced bodygurad fuelled critics of the president's jupiterian ruling style, with lawmakers from the right wing opposition and hard-left party having each filed a vote of confidence.

But they condemn what opposition lawmakers call a "constitutional crisis" over revelations that Macron's office knew that a top security aide, Alexandre Benalla, had roughed up protesters during May Day demonstrations in Paris.

Macron's Republic On The Move party controls an outright majority in the lower house National Assembly and not a single of the president's MPs broke ranks yesterday.

Benalla, the former head of Macron's security detail, was sacked last week but opposition leaders criticised the government's reaction as too slow and took aim at Macron's refusal to comment on the incident for several days.

"Since the acts under scrutiny appear to have been covered up by free passes at the highest levels of the state, there is indeed a "Benalla affair", Socialist MP Valerie Rabault told Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and other Cabinet ministers ahead of the votes.

Despite the parliamentary victories, what has become known as the "Benalla affair", after bodyguard Alexandre Benalla, has left an impact on Macron's presidency, denting his popularity and throwing parts of his agenda off schedule.

Macron has dismissed the scandal as a "storm in a teacup" but his opponents have continued to heap criticism on his handling of it, calling on him to address the nation.

The senate, France's upper house of parliament, has set up an enquiry which may question the 26-year old bodyguard after Benalla said in an interview he was open to it, despite the separate judicial investigation opened by prosecutors. He was seen hitting and choking demonstrators while wearing a police riot helmet at the annual day of protest. Each vote was defeated with a large majority.

Confidence votes are fairly common in France: there have been more than 100 since the current constitution was adopted in 1958.

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