Constitutional reforms backed by French president Nicolas Sarkozy must now get final approval by Congress after the Senate gave them the green light overnight. The proposals would boost the powers of parliament, set a two-term limit for presidents and allow the head of state to defend his policies before parliament.
Critics including the opposition Socialists, the Communists and the Greens accuse the bill of handing too much power to the president.
President of the National Assembly Bernard Accoyer says it is now up to lawmakers to decide.
“At this time, no one can say what the outcome of the vote in Congress will be. The president has said what he had to say. Now everyone must face up to their responsibilities.”
Yesterday, Sarkozy offered last-minute sweeteners to the opposition to try to persuade them to back the reforms, including a pledge to guarantee equal speaking time for the majority and the opposition during parliamentary debates.
Sarkozy also faces criticism from within his UMP party with some saying the reforms don’t go far enough.
A vote on the bill is scheduled for next Monday. Three fifths of lawmakers must approve it for it to become law.