French President Emmanuel Macron should be riding high after France’s world cup victory…
…especially since nothing else in France’s stagnant European economy seems to be going right.
But unfortunately for President Trump’s favorite frenchman, Macron’s critics are attacking him over the latest in what has been a string of ham-fisted gaffes since he won his triumphant runoff victory over Marine Le Pen, making the former investment banker the youngest French leader in the history of the Republic.
To wit, Macron’s critics are demanding to know why he didn’t act sooner to fire one of his aides who was filmed beating up a student protester.
President Emmanuel Macron fired the head of his personal security detail on Friday but faced criticism for failing to act sooner, after video was released showing the bodyguard posing as a police officer and beating a protester while off duty in May.
The bodyguard, Alexandre Benalla, was given just a 15-day suspension for the incident, where he showed up to May Day protests in riot gear and police ID tags and attacked a student protester.
French lawmakers have launched a Parliamentary inquiry into the matter:
Judicial sources told Reuters the bodyguard – who just days ago was seen in public helping to organize security for celebrations for the return of France’s World Cup champion soccer team – was now being held by police.
Lawmakers have launched a parliamentary inquiry into the incident, Benalla’s lenient initial punishment and the failure of the authorities to report him promptly to the judiciary.
In the footage, which was released on Wednesday by Le Monde newspaper, Benalla can be seen dragging a woman away from a protest and later beating a male demonstrator. On Friday, French media released a second video which showed Benalla also manhandling the woman.
Macron’s government dismissed the complaints and the investigation as a non-issue and also denied that it had responded only because the three-month-old video had become public. French media reported that Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, who on Thursday asked for the internal police investigation, was aware of the video on May 2, the day after it was filmed.
The president’s office brushed off accusations that it had responded only because the nearly three-month-old videos had become public. It said the decision had now been taken to fire Benalla because the bodyguard had improperly obtained a document while trying to make his case over the accusations.
“New facts that could constitute a misdemeanor by Alexandre Benalla were brought to the president’s attention,” an official at the presidential palace told Reuters. “As a result … the presidency has decided to start Alexandre Benalla’s dismissal procedure.”
This is an extremely bad look for Macron’s government and his movement, which relied on the enthusiasm of younger voters to propel Macron to victory. As one political analyst said.
“This is an extremely bad phase for the president and I am not sure that reacting late will change the situation,” Jean-Daniel Levy, a political analyst for Harris pollsters told Reuters. “It reinforces the image of a rather authoritarian person who sometimes shows arrogance.”
Benalla returned to Macron’s detail after serving the suspension, which has made Macron’s administration look even worse. And as tensions over immigration mount across Europe, the brief period of enthusiasm about Macron’s potential appears to already have soured into doubt. And of course, the incident recalls one that unfolded in the suburbs of Washington DC, when Turkish President Recep Tayyipp Erdogan’s bodyguards beat kurdish protesters who had gathered at the home of the Turkish ambassador.