The Benalla Affair, a French Watergate

French politics is suddenly resembling the situation in the U.S. Some are comparing the Benalla affair to Watergate. The ingredients may be the same, but the French version is rather watered-down.

The Benalla scandal — named after the man employed by Emmanuel Macron who was fired for assaulting two students during the May Day protests in Paris — is actually a quite simple affair. The president employed a bodyguard, a sort of handyman paid with the Elysée’s secret funds, without bothering to adhere to the usual administrative rules. The police were aware, and allowed Benalla — the president’s man — to proceed as he saw fit, even when he committed inadmissible acts of violence. The president’s entourage, followed by the president himself, then tried to gloss over the scandal by claiming it was not in fact a scandal at all. There have always been Alexandre Benallas alongside French presidents and ministers who act like aristocrats of the Ancien Régime in their Parisian palace


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