French Opposition Asks for No-Confidence Vote on Macron’s Government

By Reuters
July 24, 2018World News
French Opposition Asks for No-Confidence Vote on Macron’s Government
French President Emmanuel Macron walks ahead of his aide Alexandre Benalla at the end of the Bastille Day military parade in Paris, France, July 14, 2018. (Reuters/Philippe Wojazer/Pool)

PARIS—France’s opposition conservative party said on Tuesday it had asked for a vote of no-confidence against the government over the furor engulfing President Emmanuel Macron’s bodyguard, who was filmed hitting protesters during a May Day rally.

Macron is under fire in the biggest political crisis of his tenure after the interior minister and a police chief said on Monday the presidency told them in May it would deal with the bodyguard.

Critics say Macron’s office failed to punish the head of his security detail sufficiently or refer him to judicial authorities because he has grown out of touch with ordinary people since taking office 14 months ago.

“The government has failed and must be held responsible in front of parliament,” the head of The Republicans party at the lower house, Christian Jacob, told reporters.

A vote of no-confidence is unlikely to bring down Macron’s government as it has a solid majority in parliament.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told lawmakers during questioning on Monday he took no action after the presidency assured him on May 2 that bodyguard Alexandre Benalla would be punished. The Paris police chief echoed those comments.

Benalla was placed under investigation on Sunday after being identified in footage at the protests in Paris. He was off duty from work and wearing a riot helmet and police tags while embedded as an observer.

The video shows him dragging a woman away from a protest and later beating a male demonstrator.

The French leader, who fired Benalla on Friday, has not publicly commented on the case since it broke a week ago.

According to an IPSOS poll released on Tuesday, the first since the story emerged, Macron has seen his popularity fall to 32 percent, down four points since June, his lowest level since September 2017.

Opposition parties have been united in outrage over the incident and have stepped up their attacks on the government following Collomb’s hearings. More hearings, including Macron’s chief of staff later on Tuesday, are scheduled this week.

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