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What the papers said 24th July 2018

rfi English, Jul 24

"Benallagate" scandal rallies President Macron's political foes and leaves his plan to amend the French constitution in jeopardy.

The commentators are still not taking their eyes off the burgeoning Benalla scandal which has left President Emmanuel Macron facing his toughest crisis yet.

Le Parisien reports that the affair concerning Macron's top security aide filmed manhandling demonstrators at a violent Paris protest took another twist on Monday, when the Interior Minister and the Paris police chief both told a parliamentary commission it was up to Macron's office to respond.

The Director of public order, Alain Gibelin, told lawmakers that Benalla didn't have "any authorisation" from Paris police headquarters to work with his forces at the May Day demonstration.

As President Macron's political foes rally to denounce what they consider an attempted cover up, Le Figaro says the country is disgusted by the latest revelations about the rather clumsy reaction of the Elysée Palace on a matter as important as security.

The right-wing publication deplored the effects the affair is having on the work of parliament at the heart of debates on the reform of state institutions.

As Le Figaro explains, the examination of the constitutional amendment bill has been suspended and the credibility of the President damaged by the sulphurous conduct of his deputy security chief.

According to the newspaper, Emmanuel Macron faces an uphill task to restore his authority undermined by this sinister affair which has transformed into a “Benallagate" in just a few days.

Les Echos argues that even if a form of summer hysteria may have contributed in raising the temperatures around the affair, it marks a turning point in Macron's presidency.

The economic newspaper says his shortcomings have ended up rallying all the critics of his reforms, elites, leftists, populists, progressives and conservatives to the point where they are ready to “throw out the baby with the bathwater”.

Libération criticises the government decision to postpone the debate on the important constitutional reform bill. According to the daily, setting an agenda and imposing a tempo are basic political weapons which are credited for the early successes of Macron's Presidency.

Libé makes the point, that just with Macron, like it was during Sarkozy's rule, time was always a determining factor, as they both hit the road running, without relenting or retreating.

In Libération's opinion, whoever ever ends up paying the price of the Benalla affair, it will be Emmanuel Macron himself who will be hit in the heart. According to the left-leaning Libé, the Macron who refused to let events dictate his style of leadership is now something of the past.

L'Humanité examines the line of defence which it believes the Elysée Palace is likely to put up. According to the Communist newspaper, the government will probably deny in a block its responsibility shift the blame on underlings.

Such a despicable attitude, it argues, has exposed the designs he had, before getting stuck in his planned constitutional reform, to give himself absolute powers.

The opposition lawmakers were right in staging the campaign of obstruction that forced the government to call off the reform, observes L'Humanité.

According to the publication, through their action, they have demonstrated the imperative to re-establish the powers of the legislature eroded since Macron's landslide election.

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