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Above the Law. Jupiter, the Ministers and the Bodyguard

by Bernard Sun Jul 22nd, 2018 at 04:02:36 PM EST

Last week-end, French President Emmanuel Macron was on top of the world.

On Saturday, July 14, he and his wife Brigitte had attended the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Élysées (this year, sans Donald Trump), given the customary press interviews and then flew to Moscow to attend the FIFA World Cup final game between France (Les Bleus) and Croatia. On late Sunday afternoon, Les Bleus had done it again: they won the World Cup for the second time in history, exactly 20 years after the first 1998 win by the Zidane generation.

Front paged by Frank Schnittger


The day after, on Monday afternoon, the Air France flight transporting the victorious football team back from Russia landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Like their elders 20 years prior, Les Bleus were sent parading on an open top bus, down the Champs-Élysées, applauded by an ecstatic crowd, before heading to the nearby Elysée Palace for a reception by Macron. A merry time was had by all.

Jupiter Ascendant

Most commenters predicted that Macron could expect a boost in popularity and approval in the wake of the World Cup win -  just at the time his numbers had been dipping to an all time low.

Nobody could imagine how short the boost would turn out to be: unlike in ancient Rome, nobody was reminding the triumphing leader that the Tarpeian Rock is just a few steps away from the Capitol.

While the celebrations were in full swing on the Champs-Élysées and in the Elysée Palace, on the other side of Paris, across the Seine river, at the offices of newspaper Le Monde, Boulevard des Italiens, a small team of journalists were completing the last verification for an investigation which had started two and a half months ago: on May 1st 2018 precisely.

A Beautiful May Day

May 1st is the International Labour Day and traditionally, many unions organize a march in Paris and the main French cities. This year's Paris march was marred by serious incidents: more than a thousand hooligans from some loosely connected groups called "Black Blocks" started trashing nearby businesses (a fast-food restaurant and a car dealership) and setting cars on fire.

Some distance away from the big brouhaha, a smaller rally, initially called by high-school students on Facebook and relayed by university student union UNEF, was gathering about a hundred people on the Place de la Contrescarpe, in the heart of the Quartier Latin.

It was supposed to turn into a large open air debate around a drink (there are many cafés  around) and discussions. A small group of riot police was present and there were a few minor scuffles and tear gas. While the police was dispersing the protesters, a man wearing a police visor, but no police uniform, seized one of the protestors and started hitting him. Shortly after, the assailant, realizing the number of smartphones filming the scene, left the area altogether, still unchallenged by the cops.

Le Monde drops the Bombshell

The journalists at Le Monde have been investigating video clips that were making the rounds on the social networks since early May, claiming that the masked man assaulting the protesters was a part of the Macron team at the Elysée. Two days after Les Bleus' parade, on the evening of Wednesday 18, Le Monde positively identifies the assailant: Alexandre Benalla, former bodyguard and responsible for Macron's security detail since the beginning of the Presidential election campaign in 2015. They also publish a video documenting the attack:

Other media soon add their own parts to the overall picture: the Minister of Interior, Gérard Collomb (formerly member of the PS and mayor of Lyon) was informed as soon as May 2 that someone from Macron's staff was caught on video. Benalla had reportedly asked to tag along the police units "as an observer": he was granted authorization, issued an helmet for his eventual protection (plus a "Police" orange armband, according to some pictures) and instructed to remain behind and keep to his observer's role.

A second video of the attack, from a Polish-American woman living in Paris, shows the attack from another angle, with Benalla brutally manhandling a woman, a friend of his first male target:

Macron's Chief of Staff, Patrick Strzoda, immediately called the President, who was on an offical visit in Australia. "If the facts are established, sanctions must be taken", reportedly said Macron. On May 4, Benalla is suspended for two weeks without pay and, according to the Elysée, "re-assigned to clerical duties".

Where is Waldo Benalla?

"Clerical duties" only, right? Not so fast: since Benalla has been ID'ed, the whole press has been reviewing all their photos and video recordings of events involving Macron since early May, and boy, is Benalla's face popping all over the place. On Macron's bicycle outing in Le Touquet? Check. During a visit to Claude Monet's house in Giverny? Check. The ceremony for the transfer of Simone Veil's remains to the Panthéon on July 1st? Check. Right behind Brigitte Macron in the official tribune during the Bastille Day parade? Check. Oh, and who is standing near the driver of the open top bus parading the victorious French footbal team on the Champs-Élysées on Monday afternoon? Could it be? You bet.

The Elysée Palace's lame explanation was that they needed "all hands on deck" for "exceptional events". Benalla's official job title was "Assistant Chief of Staff", no low-level flunky.

L'Affaire Benalla

A general uproar followed the revelations from Le Monde. On Thursday 19, the Prosecutor Office in Paris opened an inquiry for assault by a public official and impersonating a police officer.

On Friday 20, Benalla was arrested and placed in police custody, along with Vincent Crase, a former gendarme working for Macron's party LREM, who was seen on the videos of Benalla's attacks. The same day, the Elysée Palace announced that Benalla was terminated, effective immediately

Also, three police officers, including a police Commissioner, have been suspended and were being auditioned by the IGPN, aka "the police of the police", for having illegally transmitted extracts of video surveillance records to Benalla. This was illegal on two fronts: first, the recordings must be erased after one month as per law and, surprise, looks like they were still available more than two months after the recording; second, Benalla had no authority whatsoever to be the recipient of such recordings.

Meanwhile, the Parliament was still in session, examining a reform of the Constitution pushed by Macron, reducing the number of lawmakers (currently 577), changing the election system with some lawmakers elected on a proportional basis rather than the strict district based current system. The opposition parties, both from the Left and from the Right suspended the session and demanded for Collomb, the Minister of Interior, to appear before the assembly the same afternoon: he declined. They also asked for Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to appear: he was out of town, attending the 13th stage of the Tour de France in the Alpes. Needless to say, this didn't go down too well with the lawmakers.  

It's not the Crime, it's the Cover-Up

Several lawmakers contended that, given the seriousness of Benalla's actions, the Presidency as well as the Minister of the Interior had a duty to inform the Prosecutor Office, as per Article 40 of the Criminal Procedure Code: "Any public officer or civil servant who, in the pursuit of his duties, is made aware of a crime or misdemeanor, shall report the facts to the Prosecutor Office without delay."

This week-end, Collomb announced he would show up at the Assembly on Monday morning to answer the lawmakers' questions; the constitutional revision project is suspended sine die.

L'Affaire Benalla has been front and center of all French media for four days in a row and the storm shows no sign of abating.

The latest developments: Benalla and Crase have been released from custody on Saturday evening; they were due to be presented to a magistrate later on Sunday. The Prosecutor office has requested criminal charges to be filed against Benalla, Crase and the three yet unnamed police officers.

Also: the two persons assaulted on May 1st have been identified and reportedly indicated they want to talk to the investigators.

Radioactive Fallout

Obviously, not only did Benalla get away with a slap on the wrist, but the justice wasn't aware of the allegations until Le Monde's article. This can't be good. We all know that the law is for little people, but this scandal has the potential to rock the Macron system: Macron favors personal loyalty above anything else; this is why Benalla was not only kept but re-integrated into the President's security detail but also assigned a new apartment in the center of Paris, in a building belonging to and managed by the Presidency (Benalla was living in the suburbs before).

This blatantly naked impunity has shocked the public opinion, and the successive fibs by the Presidency and the government, about Benalla's real position and the ensuing cover-up can no longer be brushed under the rug.

Macron doesn't like the press - this is no mystery, and prefers "direct" communication (as in "corporate communication") to the public via Twitter of FB. His system has also been highly centralized, relying on a small number of faithfuls. This intense personal loyalty is probably at the root of the decision to keep mum on the whole thing, hoping that it would die out. Unfortunately for them, it didn't. Not only is the justice now on the case, but the two chambers of Parliament have created ad hoc committees to investigate the affair.

The whole affair is already seriously rocking the government and Macron himself: at a minimum, Collomb will probably have to go. But even besides the ongoing criminal investigation, the whole dynamics of the Macron system and his En Marche parliamentary majority has been undermined.

How lasting the damage will be? It's too early to tell, but one thing is for sure: Jupiter is coming back to Earth.

Update [2018-7-22 20:27:9 by Bernard]:: The five suspects, Alexandre Benalla, Vincent Crase and three police officer from the Paris Police Prefecture have been formally charged by a magistrate tonight. As the investigation is ongoing, they are expressly forbidden to communicate between each other and to exercise "any law enforcement activity".

Display:
a silk purse,
a sow's ear,
a constitutional amendment reducing the number of legislators? o, my. that seems kinda italian, maybe ... fascist?!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Jul 22nd, 2018 at 06:38:34 PM EST
and very well written.

(Very minor nitpick: "being auditioned by the IGPN") you audition someone for a part in a play or film. The police question or interrogate suspects)

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 22nd, 2018 at 08:34:19 PM EST
Thanks. I was trying to follow your example :)
To be fair, the whole story reads like a summer vacation thriller, the kind you take with you to the beach to pass the time. Really, who can top that?

You can tell that I'm a native French speaker: the word "audition" is also used in France when a suspect is deposed by the police or by an investigative magistrate, as in: "I'm innocent, Guv. Honest. Now, do I get the part?"

The same word ("audition") is also used when a government minister appears before the Assembly or Senate commission, like Gérard Collomb today: another kind of theater...

by Bernard on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018 at 06:43:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm thinking, given the context and little appreciation for French etymology (in the Latin root audio), the US-Eng. cognate is a

hearing.

Having said that, moahr Indo-European theater lulz ::
AP demotes Banella to "security aide".

Crisis averted. Carry on.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018 at 07:01:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't have bothered with the nit pick had the rest of the article not been so perfectly crafted. I presumed it was a literal translation from the French, and it was only a slight deviation from normal usage and no less intelligible for that. I consider myself to be still learning English and can only dream of being half fluent in another language. I have almost given up trying to learn Spanish because I am so hopeless at it.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018 at 07:12:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is extraordinary that Benalla seems to have felt he could engage in some recreational student bashing masquerading as a police officer at a minor event unconnected to a much more serious riot nearby. It seems even the riot police may have objected to his behaviour and helped to "out" him.

Had the matter been dealt with swiftly, and properly, he would have been sacked, tried, and perhaps fined and given a suspended sentence. His close connection to the Presidency would have been a minor embarrassment probably soon forgotten.

As you say, it was the subsequent cover-up which elevated this into a major affair. Was it just an excess of loyalty by Macron and his staff, or is their a culture of cover-up and impunity at the highest levels? Is this part of a pattern of similar events?

Macron already seems vulnerable to charges of arrogance and dreams of omnipotence. This affair is not going to help his public image at all. If he dismisses this as just another example of a hostile press out to get him he may be in for a rude surprise at the next elections.

Sometimes it is the little things that betray what you are truly like, and the French people may not like what they see,

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 22nd, 2018 at 08:53:47 PM EST
Yes, the police and gendarmes have been pissed off by Benalla's behavior on several occasions: when the French team arrived from Moscow at CDG airport on Monday afternoon, Benalla tried to run the show and order everyone around, including the Gendarmerie detachment. The colonel in charge that day officially complained to his hierarchy.

At least one police union (not the main police union) filed a criminal suit against Benalla. The page on their web site is rather scathing: "After the cosplay president, the cosplay adviser".

As you stated, it was a combination of both personal loyalty from Macron to those who serve him faithfully, and a culture of cover-up and impunity that is permeating the whole executive, especially the law enforcement part. This is where the Parliament, who has been rather marginalized under Macron, is smelling blood. It's too late to cover-up now.

by Bernard on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018 at 06:57:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
cosplay? - Playboy? Play acting? Pretender? Dressing up as something you are not?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018 at 07:24:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cosplay
Cosplay (コスプレ kosupure), a contraction of the words costume play, is a hobby in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character.
[...]
Favorite sources include anime, cartoons, comic books, live-action films, television series and video games.
by Bernard on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018 at 08:19:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It gets worse. It gets much worse.

The size of the affair, which is growing by the hour, is due not only to how Benalla was protected, but the mind-boggling list of privileges he had accumulated in Macron's first year of presidency. Off the top of my head, not exhaustive and subject to verification, this 26 year old punk with no qualifications got :

  • 10k euro salary (but whatever)
  • The rank of lieutenant colonel in the police reserve
  • A top-level access card to parliament
  • A mission to unify the President's various security services into a US style secret service, he was due to report back in September
  • The kicker : an apartment which adjoins the Elysée palace, and was formerly used by François Mitterand's mistress and secret daughter

I couldn't possibly draw any scabrous conclusions from any of this. After all, former monarchs had their favourites, and the third estate had no right to have opinions about that. Caligula nominated his horse to the Senate. Etc. Whatever.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018 at 10:33:12 AM EST
And Macron still playing Jupiter?
Have they never thought of hiring a good crisis communication consultant, FFS?

They have done blunder after blunder: first hiding the facts, then offering lame excuses and lies that were disproved within the hour, only to be replaced by more disprovable facts.

As I wrote, Macron is known to favor personal loyalty above all else - not unlike a certain someone across the pond. He wouldn't dump Benalla in May and only did it in panic, last Friday, when the fellow was arrested.

by Bernard on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018 at 07:04:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hmmm, so the affair promises further salacious readings of Macron's and Banella's relationship?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018 at 07:06:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This aspect is not commented in the press. But you see people on news shows saying things like : "Probably at some point, a new, very surprising aspect of the affair will come to the fore"...

It's a fact that omerta on Presidents' private lives have been completely sacred for the French media... until two presidents ago. It was well known that Mitterand and Chirac put it about, but not commented. But Sarkozy was transparent, in fact he played it up for the magazines... divorced and remarried during his presidency... then, and this was a crucial change, Hollande got crucified by the press (more precisely, ridiculed and humiliated) because he was photographed leaving the Elysée incognito on a motor scooter to meet a lover.

So it can't be a total taboo any more to talk about the extra-marital affairs of a President.

On the other hand, we don't yet have a smoking gun...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Jul 24th, 2018 at 07:32:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps Macron is too in love with himself to have affairs... and no doubt teacher is keeping a close eye!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 24th, 2018 at 10:36:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not so fast: since Benalla has been ID'ed, the whole press has been reviewing all their photos and video recordings of events involving Macron since early May, and boy, is Benalla's face popping all over the place. On Macron's bicycle outing in Le Touquet? Check. During a visit to Claude Monet's house in Giverny? Check. The ceremony for the transfer of Simone Veil's remains to the Panthéon on July 1st? Check. Right behind Brigitte Macron in the official tribune during the Bastille Day parade? Check. Oh, and who is standing near the driver of the open top bus parading the victorious French footbal team on the Champs-Élysées on Monday afternoon? Could it be? You bet.
Quite


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018 at 01:59:28 PM EST
French people are having a field day on social media.
The trending meme is: Benalla, Benaplusla ("Ben is here, Ben is no longer here")


by Bernard on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018 at 07:24:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interior Minister Gérard Collomb was hauled up in front of a parliamentary committee today. There are strident calls for his resignation. But apparently he knew nothing about anything... Completely incongruous.

The co-ordinated response apparently cooked up by Macron's team (he is holed up, not been seen in public since Friday) seems to be that it was the president's chief of staff who is at fault, he should have reported Benalla to the police etc. Convenient: he had already announced that he will retire in October...
Firing him now (slightly early retirement) will not be the circuit-breaker required. And now the ball is squarely in the court of the Presidential inner circle.

Macron will have to speak at some point. He only gets one shot. It's going to be hugely entertaining, obviously...

Any bets?

  1. Macron declares it's all Collomb's fault and fires him
  2. ??? My imagination is failing me...


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018 at 03:29:40 PM EST
Macron: Detailed low level security and staffing arrangements are not the concern of the Presidency...there was a failure of down the line management supervision and control... steps have been taken to ensure there can be no repetition... the law will be allowed to take its course and the accused are entitled to due process... I have appointed a new chief of staff to ensure better systems are put in place ... I have met with those who were allegedly assaulted and assured them of my full support... they will receive full compensation if there is independent verification of the allegations that they were unjustly assaulted ... the Presidency supports the right of peaceful protest and a free press and applauds the press for their diligence in this case...  NEXT

How am I doing?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018 at 03:56:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're hired!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2018 at 02:32:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I won't work for just anyone you know!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 24th, 2018 at 10:29:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another common sadist no longer content to stay voyeur.
Macron is the smiling, sleek face of modern economic fascism, a supposed finger in the dyke against the 'real' old fashioned Le Penist thugs.
Nice to see his approval figures doing the Hollande plunge.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2018 at 02:29:34 AM EST
That's the thing. I think (actually I hope) that he may be at the end of his breakneck "reformist" period.

He's already done a lot of damage, dumbing down and mutilating everything that is different or better about France, in order that its unemployed may be competitive with those of Bulgaria...

No doubt he always knew he would hit a wall somewhere, that's why he's in such a hurry.

Significantly, Parliament stonewalled on his constitutional reform bill (which would give more power to the President and less to Parliament, hey hey) when the Benalla story broke. With a bit of luck, it will never get through.

Bearing in mind that he still has a big parliamentary majority... and that various of his MPs have expressed doubt or disgust at various measures but none have ever voted against him...
Now they are going to have to deal with the habitual situation of French governments : how to reform with public opinion against you? Surely they will put the brakes on?

But then again...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Jul 24th, 2018 at 09:36:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Parliament, both the Assembly and the Senate, have been humiliated by Macron since the beginning: relegated to the sideline while the government was "reforming by decrees" and then invited to come to Versailles every year for a joint Assembly + Senate session, so that Macron can lecture them. By the Constitution, the President is only allowed to appear before the Parliament during those joint sessions, and Macon is using and abusing this mechanism.

For the opposition, this affair is a good opportunity to exact revenge on Macron and his government: they've smelled blood and they will drag it on as much as they can.

Most of the LREM MPs are political novices, many have never hold an elected office before and, lacking a political base, organization support and a strong recognition among their constituents, they are even more dependent on the Macron organization (surely a coincidence). At the moment, they are stunned and sort of paralyzed having never lived this kind of major crisis before. How long will it last? How many will distance themselves from the LREM lifeline? We'll see.

by Bernard on Tue Jul 24th, 2018 at 06:21:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This being the silly season where real news is scarce, it's easy to see why Macron's opponents will fan the flames of this controversy and keep it burning for as long as possible.

But looked at from afar, it looks like a minor controversy which is only gaining currency because of inept management and the fact that it plays into a pre-existing narrative of Macron arrogance and aloofness.

A self-important security chief uses his position to abuse police privileges and loses self-control at a demonstration he had no business being at. Thinking they had gotten away with it his superiors covered it up and re-instate him after only 15 days suspension.

Whether Macron himself was party to this cover up is unclear, but he bears overall responsibility and needs to make a public admission of a failure of due process - at the very least. His judgement in promoting someone like Benalla is also open to question.

Other than that it seems like one of those scandals which is hyped up but is soon forgotten unless there is a repetition of similar malfeasance. Politically Macron will have paid a heavy price if this stalls the momentum of already unpopular "reforms".

But it is also uncomfortably reminiscent of US Police brutality which only ever comes to public consciousness if someone with a camera phone happens to be nearby. It raises awkward questions about the quality of personnel and management in Macron's team.

Macron will try to change the narrative quickly to some grand initiative he is pursuing elsewhere. It is the oppositions job to keep his feet to the fire.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 24th, 2018 at 07:37:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank:
Whether Macron himself was party to this cover up is unclear, but he bears overall responsibility and needs to make a public admission of a failure of due process - at the very least.

Public admission: does a speech in a closed session with the LREM MPs count?

Macron : «S'ils cherchent un responsable, le seul responsable c'est moi, et moi seul»

Emmanuel Macron était ce mardi soir à la Maison de l'Amérique latine, à Paris, pour le pot de fin de session parlementaire des députés LREM. Un rassemblement auquel participaient plusieurs membres du gouvernement.

Emmanuel Macron a évidemment profité de l'occasion pour mobiliser ses troupes, en pleine affaire Benalla.

Macron: "If they look for someone to take responsibility, the only responsible party is me, and me alone"

Macron should say that publicly indeed. But here's the rub: his alpha-male temper has led him to delay this moment of perceived humiliation; he may come to it ultimately, buy only after having let the whole brouhaha balloon out of control. He only has his own hubris to blame.

And don't forget there's a criminal investigation started; more shenanigans could surface in the future.

In any case, Macron's aura of invincibility has been shattered; politically this could be a turning point, but it's too early to tell of course.

by Bernard on Tue Jul 24th, 2018 at 08:01:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was bound to happen, sooner or later, about something or other...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 24th, 2018 at 08:23:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's the thing : it's about separation of powers, and abuse of executive privilege.

It's clear that Benalla's only qualification for the mass of honours and responsibilities he had accumulated, is his closeness to the "presidential couple" (some have greatness thrust upon them, as Shakespeare would say). His cowboy approach incensed many in the police and in the civil service, but none dared point out that he was breaking rules left right and centre, because he was untouchable.

So how many other intimates, how many ticking bombs?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Jul 25th, 2018 at 12:51:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Decentralized government proffers fairly new constitutional authority. L'état, c'est moi lingers: Is it this habit of deference to the state personified by the man to which you allude?

There is a lot of that going around.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Jul 25th, 2018 at 11:59:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But France has never been decentralized. The 80s decentralisation measures were superficial, and are being rolled back by stealth (exemption from municipal taxes, no right to establish taxes for regional assemblies, legal battles against universal competencies for the non-national strata...)

Sadly, France is decades away from any meaningful decentralisation. Macron is a Bonapartist, but the Constitution is Bonapartist anyway.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 08:25:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so, that's a yes?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 06:37:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Benalla may possess a video where Macron is favorable to a leftist policy.
by Bernard on Wed Jul 25th, 2018 at 08:13:38 PM EST
'Does he think we are idiots?' - La France périphérique sours on Macron
"The main consequence of this for Emmanuel Macron is there will be a `before' and an `after' the Benalla affair. For several months now there has been a segment of the electorate - between 35-40% - who have doubts about Emmanuel Macron but continue to have confidence in him. It's a kind of wait and see how he does attitude. This segment he will lose," Cautrès [from the Sciences Po research institute] said.

More seriously than damage to his image, the scandal has derailed Macron's key constitutional reform, including changes giving greater power to the president at a time when some in France believe the Benalla affair shows he already has too much. The controversial legislation was to be discussed last week; instead it was postponed while parliament was suspended and MPs formed a cross-party commission to quiz key players in the scandal.

The commission then plunged into disarray as opposition MPs - including the joint-chairman - walked out accusing the Élysée of blocking the inquiry and sticking two fingers up to democracy.

Consequently, the scandal, and its undertones of an Élysée that considers itself above the law, has sounded like an alarm, Cautrès said, making it unlikely Macron will be able to push through the reform. "It's going to be complicated for him," Cautrès added.

by Bernard on Fri Jul 27th, 2018 at 06:40:46 PM EST
Anglophone press (REUTERS) is putting out an opinion polling result that the "affair" has increased Macron's popularity, especially among the youths. "Off the low" by 2 percentage points.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 11:27:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This was the Harris poll. Another poll run by IFOP for JDD shows mixed results:
  • Monday 18 and Tuesday 19, just after the World Cup victory, up 1 point to 41%
  • second polling from 25-27 July: down 4 points to 37%

Combining the two steps, the JDD claims an overall score of 39%, down one point.

The same JDD is being skewered for offering a platform for the Elysée communication counter-offensive with a front page splash of the Man "by whom the scandal has come": Benalla: "What I did for Macron"

The Twittosphere was of course prompt to "fix" this front page:

by Bernard on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 06:20:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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