July 31, 2018
Much ado about nothing - French version
Today Édouard Philippe will have to appear in the assembly to respond to two censure motions that opposition parties handed in over the Benalla affair. So far Philippe was silent in this affair, since after all it is about the inner workings of the Élysée palace and not the political direction of the government. There are already two committees of inquiry, one in the assembly and one in the senate, dealing with this affair. And on top of that the opposition parties are now puting two censure motions on the table.
To those who consider the Benalla affair as nothing but a summer scandal, this seems way over the top. The censure motion will not end the French government, nobody expects that. So why hand one in? Just to record their disapproval how the scandal is being dismissed by Philippe as a summer story and not a state affair? Or to draw Philippe in and use the scandal to criticise his policies?
Censure motions are not rare in French politics though they never succeeded except once in 1962. It is the first time for Emmanuel Macron's government, though, and the first time since 1980 that two motions are discussed at the same time in the assembly, recalls the Nouvel Observateur.
Olivier Auguste suggests in L'Opinion that the only reason for this is that it closes the political ranks on the right and the left: One censure notion was handed in by the Republicans, whose members for once can forget about their internal struggles with the constitutional reform. The other censure motion comes from the left, backed by the Socialists, the Communists and La France Insoumise. But it pulls together the ranks behind Macron too. And the prime minister's office sees this double motion as a golden opportunity to close the political chapter of the Benalla affair once and for all.