Amid bodyguard crisis, Macron loses ground in new poll


French President Emmanuel Macron's government survived two votes of no confidence Tuesday in the wake of a political and public uproar triggered by a video of his chief bodyguard beating a protester.

The no-confidence motions, moved by the conservative Republicans party and opposition lawmakers from the Left and far-Left in the lower house of parliament, needed 289 votes to pass. The first received 143 votes, while the second got 74.

Yet another survey on Saturday was more favourable to the 40-year-old former investment banker, whose popularity had taken a knock in recent months as critics described him as out of touch over policies seen as favouring the rich.

Questions about the government's handling of the affair turned it into Macron's biggest political crisis since he took office a year ago.

Macron has dismissed the scandal as a "storm in a teacup" but his opponents have continued to heap criticism on his handling of it, demanding he address the nation.

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"We know today that there is a phenomenon of screen addiction, the phenomenon of bad mobile phone use", education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told French news channel BFMTV, according to CNN. "This is a question of transparency, honour, integrity", he said.

Benalla, a former bouncer, was caught on video hitting a protester and wrestling another to the ground later in the day while wearing a police helmet and armband, sparking the most damaging scandal of Macron's presidency since he took office in May 2017.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is set to respond to speeches by the two MPs presenting the motions, led by the Republicans and the Communist Party, starting at 1300 GMT. He has said he merely wanted to help police bring violent protesters under control, insisting he did not commit a crime.

Macron will be hoping for some respite as MPs head off on their summer break Wednesday.

Only once has such a move actually brought down a French government, that of Georges Pompidou in 1962.