French President survives no-confidence motions

August 1, 2018

Paris: The French parliament rejected on Tuesday a pair of no-confidence motions brought against the government of President Emmanuel Macron in connection with a scandal involving his now-former bodyguard.

The first proposal, put forward by the conservative Republicans, garnered 143 votes in the National Assembly, fewer than half the 289 required to pass, while only 74 lawmakers supported the second motion, submitted by the Socialists, Communists and the leftist France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party, Efe reported.

Though the conservatives and the left abstained on each other’s motions, even their combined total – 217 – would have fallen far short of the 289-vote threshhold.

The no-confidence motions were widely viewed as symbolic, given that Macron’s centrist La Republique En Marche (The Republic On the Move) has an absolute majority in the assembly.

During the debate ahead of the votes, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe defended the Macron government’s response to video footage published by Le Monde that showed presidential bodyguard Alexandre Benalla, 26, beating protesters at a 2018 May Day demonstration.

“The events of May 1 say nothing about the presidency of the republic,” Philippe told lawmakers. “Attempts to blame the president serve no interest other than political ones.”

Macron dismissed Benalla after Le Monde released the video.

The Benalla affair is one of the biggest political challenges to face Macron since he took office in May 2017.

A parliamentary inquiry into Benalla’s actions is ongoing. (IANS)

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