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France parliament votes to amend constitution

[JURIST] The French parliament voted to amend the French Constitution [text] on Monday, passing the amendment package by the necessary three-fifths vote of legislators from both the French National Assembly and Senate [official websites, in French]. The amendments [draft bill, PDF, in French] would allow the French president to address the parliament, sets a two-term limit for the presidency, provides for a parliamentary veto of certain presidential appointments, allows parliament to set its own agenda, and ends the president's right of collective pardon. French president Nicolas Sarkozy [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] is in Ireland seeking a solution to the failed EU reform treaty [JURIST news archive] referendum, but voiced his approval of the parliament's vote. AFP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

The constitutional amendment package was approved in the Senate last week [JURIST report] by a vote of 162-125. The amendments are aimed at strengthening the powers of the National Assembly and Senate by giving them more oversight authority. The reforms will restrain the executive branch through the use of term limits and other provisions. The amendment package is generally favored by parties with more conservative and centrist platforms, but liberals have called the package a "sham" [Le Monde report, in French]. They have said that it will be ineffective at instituting desirable changes and that it will serve to bolster Sarkozy's powers.

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