French President Nicolas Sarkozy faces a test of his reformist credentials today in a vote that would dramatically change the way France is run.
The President has staked his reputation on overhauling the workings of the state. Promising a cultural revolution, he says he wants to redress the balance of power, giving more weight to a weakened French parliament.
In 1958 General de Gaulle implemented a constitution affording the President sweeping powers that persist to this day.
Sarkozy claims his reform plan would give parliament new powers to oversee appointments and to set its own agenda while protecting citizens’ rights. He also wants the Presidency limited to two terms.
MPs and senators are voting on the bill today during a special congress at Versailles. Sarkozy needs a three fifths majority and is dependent on cross party support.
But the socialist, communist and ecology parties have vowed to vote against. With some Gaullists ready to desert the President, analysts calculate the result could hang on just three votes.
The result maybe on a knife edge but a yes vote would ensure Sarkozy’s remaining reforms would be irreversible during his five year tenure as President.