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What the papers said 31st July 2018

rfi English, Jul 31

The Benalla scandal haunting President Macron takes new twist as opposition parties table no confidence motions against the government in Parliament.

It's 10 days now since the Benalla affair burst into the front pages of the news and commentators are still talking about what is now widely described as the most damaging scandal of Macron's Presidency.

Liberation reports that while lawmakers investigate allegations of an attempted cover-up of the affair by the Elysée Palace, French prosecutors have opened a new probe into the actions of the now dismissed top presidential security aide. This was after two youths lodged a complaint alleging that Alexandre Benalla and a co-accused manhandled them in a central Paris park.

The left-leaning daily has a video of the incident to back up its coverage of the new accusations that the two men grabbed the plaintiff's smartphone and erased the video she had been filming of their actions. The publication says she was able to retrieve the footage using special software.

According to Libé, Alexandre Benalla's reckless conduct has caused more havoc in President Macron's administration than the tense debate about his reforms pushed through the National Assembly or even the rolling strikes staged by the unions to protest his fast-tracking of reform negotiations.

For the newspaper, this affair has again rocked the political machinery around Macron like that during the first missteps of the affairs that led former justice Minister Francois Bayrou and National Cohesion Richard Ferrand to step down weeks after their appointments.

Liberation says Macron's approval ratings, already low, appear to have taken a further hit because of the scandal, after an IPSOS poll published last Tuesday found out that a record 60 percent of respondents reported an unfavourable opinion of him.

Le Figaro blames the President's waning political fortunes on his alleged condescending personality and on the way he governs and communicates, warning that his divisive character is on the verge of becoming his Achilles heel.

As opposition lawmakers begin debating motions of no confidence they intend to table against the government starting this Tuesday, L'Humanité qualifies Benalla’s queue jumping as just another face of the system of institutional violence put in place by Macron and never witnessed in the country before.

The Communist daily points to the scene of devastation of the system he has left behind, the muzzling up of parliament, the alleged destruction of the labour code, the humiliation of the trade unions and alleged deprivation of social welfare structures of the resources which they need to cater for the poor.

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