France: will the Benalla scandal become a crisis?
The scandal surrounding Macron's former bodyguard Alexandre Benalla which hit France last summer has entered a new phase. After the magazine Mediapart published new findings on the affair, the prosecutor's office has demanded that its offices be searched. It has also emerged that Benalla continued to use his diplomatic passports for business purposes even after he was sacked.
A far cry from exemplary behaviour
Le Point is stunned by how uncritical those who worked with Benalla were:
“So far questions have abounded about what this former presidential employee got up to when he travelled the world with his diplomatic passports. But no one imagined he was cutting lucrative business deals with influential foreign nationals, while at the same time benefiting from highly sensitive security policy information. ... In addition it's astonishing that no official body detected this dysfunction at the highest state level. ... There was a woeful lack of far oversight regarding this character. And, ultimately, there is a huge inconsistency given that during his election campaign Macron committed to ensuring exemplary behaviour and making it a symbol of his presidency.”
Big money often detrimental to freedom
In view of Benalla's alleged contacts with dictators and oligarchs in recent months columnist Tineke Beekmann warns in De Standaard against cooperating with undemocratic regimes:
“To what extent is it possible for a country to protect its political freedom against interference and the excessive influence of big money from non-democratic regimes? ... This question arises in view of the tax havens and the dubious investments by undemocratic regimes in European companies or European cultural heritage. ... All the alarm bells should be ringing here. But that's hardly the case because liberal ideology holds that freedom is indivisible. The free circulation of money, goods and people should - at least in theory - promote political freedom. ... Unfortunately that's just not how it works.”