July 28, 2018 / 10:08 PM / in 4 months

Amid bodyguard crisis, mixed bag for Macron in poll ratings

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a joint news conference with Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (not pictured) at Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Susana Vera

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron’s popularity slid to a fresh low following a scandal surrounding his former senior bodyguard, according to a wide-ranging survey on Sunday, countering a less damaging picture painted by other polls.

Macron, who came to power just over a year ago on an economic reform platform, has been mired in a furor involving his former senior bodyguard, who was caught on camera assaulting a May Day protestor while off duty and wearing police gear.

Alexandre Benalla, the former head of Macron’s security detail, was fired last week but opposition leaders criticized the government’s reaction as too slow and took aim at Macron’s refusal to comment on the incident for several days.

An Ifop survey of nearly 2,000 people, published in the French weekly newspaper Journal du Dimanche on Sunday, found Macron’s popularity had slipped one percentage point from a month earlier to a new low of 39 percent in July.

The poll showed a clear shift in opinion before and after the Benalla footage came to light on July 19, with the president’s ratings falling later in the month when they had previously appeared to improve.

Yet another survey on Saturday was more favorable 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 favoring the rich.

That Harris Interactive poll showed Macron’s ratings improving slightly in July, a month that was also marked by France’s World Cup soccer victory.

The Benalla scandal is set to get another airing this week in parliament, after the opposition conservative party presented a motion of no-confidence in the government.

It is very unlikely to succeed, as lawmakers from Macron’s party have a solid majority in the lower house.

Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Sandra Maler

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