Will Emmanuel Macron Lose Power? Conservatives Call for Vote of No Confidence in France

A conservative political party in France announced Tuesday that it planned to call a vote of no confidence in President Emmanuel Macron's government after a video emerged of the president's bodyguard beating a protester more than two months ago.

Alexandre Benalla, Macron's assistant chief of staff and the former security chief of his presidential campaign, was filmed donning a police helmet as he viciously attacked a male protester attending a May Day demonstration on May 1. In the video, Benalla is also seen dragging a female protester away from a group of demonstrators. Although he was off-duty at the time, Benalla was allegedly wearing a police badge and other unauthorized police gear.

At least 100 people were arrested after the demonstrations in Paris turned violent. Demonstrators destroyed a McDonald's and a car dealership.

But the video of Benalla, a close ally of Macron, sparked significant opposition to the French president and his government. Benalla was fired on Friday and placed under investigation on Sunday. Critics said that Macron should have acted sooner to punish Benalla, who was allowed to return to work for several weeks following the incident. Les Républicains, a right-leaning political party formed in 2015, said it would begin preparing a vote of no confidence.

"The government has failed," Christian Jacob, leader of the Les Républicains, told reporters Tuesday. "The government allowed this [to happen], even though it was responsible for stopping it—and we want an explanation."

It is unclear when the group will officially call the motion of no confidence, but it is evident that the backlash surrounding "the Benalla affair," as it has been dubbed, is hurting Macron's popularity. Opponents have accused the 40-year-old former investment banker of being an out-of-touch leader who favors the rich. In the wake of the scandal, polls revealed that the French president's popularity dipped again again after hitting an all-time low in March.

Meanwhile, people across France have been protesting Macron's plans to implement labor reforms, cut social welfare, and revamp universities and vocational training programs. Even Macron's chief economists have warned that the policies are making him unpopular.

"The president must talk about the issue of inequalities and not leave this debate to his opponents," three of the president's chief economists wrote a confidential memo to Macron, which was later leaked to the French press.