Tuesday, 19 October 2021

French govt survives confidence votes

PARIS: The centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron survived confidence votes called by both the left and right over the scandal surrounding a top security aide who was filmed manhandling demonstrators at a Paris protest.

There was little chance of bringing down the government given the comfortable majority enjoyed by Macron’s Republic On The Move (LREM) party in the lower-house National Assembly.

But opposition lawmakers seized the opportunity to denounce a “constitutional crisis” following revelations that Macron’s office knew top security aide Alexandre Benalla, had roughed up two protesters while posing as a police officer. Macron’s office gave him a two-week suspension after learning of a video showing the incident, but did not report it to prosecutors. Several have demanded that the government “explain itself” over the worst scandal since Macron took office in May last year. “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.

“The disease runs deep – it’s called presidentialism”, said leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, accusing Macron of holding himself above parliament and the judiciary.

But only 143 MPs voted in favour of the confidence vote brought by rightwing parties, far short of the absolute majority of 289 votes needed to topple the government.

The confidence vote called by leftwing groups also failed, garnering just 74 votes.

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