How the Benalla bodyguard affair revealed Macron's brand of populism


On Monday September 13th 2021 President Emmanuel Macron's former bodyguard and security adviser Alexandre Benalla stood trial following an incident in 2018 when he was filmed assaulting protestors at a demonstration. In addition to assault, Benalla is also accused of interfering in the operation of the police without lawful excuse, of forgery and using a false instrument in relation to a diplomatic passport and unlawfully carrying a firearm. In this op-ed article Mediapart's Fabrice Arfi argues that the importance of the Benalla case goes beyond the conduct of the president's trusted bodyguard and adviser. He says that the high-profile affair, and in particular a speech that the president gave just one week after it was revealed in the press, showed the world there is something quite illiberal about Emmanuel Macron.

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In 1962 the French philosopher and literary theorist Roland Barthes penned a lively and gripping article on crime stories and what he called the “miracle of the clue”. Writing in the periodical 'Médiations - la revue des expressions contemporaines' , Barthes stated: “The miracle of the clue is that it's the most obscure clue that solves the mystery in the end.”