(Reuters) – President François Hollande’s plan to strip French citizenship from people convicted of terrorism passed a first hurdle on Tuesday when the lower house of parliament backed controversial proposals introduced after Islamic terrorists killed 130 people in Paris last November.The National Assembly voted by 162-148 late on Tuesday to write a passport-stripping clause into the constitution, despite misgivings by opponents that it was too extreme.
The vote appeared to only partially defuse concerns of a rebellion scuttling a proposal that some, notably members of the ruling Socialist Party, consider an ineffective, symbolic measure in France’s battle against terrorism.
Mr Hollande’s government launched the long process to change the constitution after the November 13 Paris attacks, for which the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility.
Manuel Valls, the prime minister, welcomed the result.
Asked by reporters if the tight outcome meant there was a risk the reform could fall at future hurdles, Mr Valls said, “Tomorrow, we will hold another vote. I think the approval will be broader and the constitutional reform will go ahead.”
A follow-up vote is scheduled for Wednesday in which the lower house is due to reaffirm the vote, followed by three further votes in upper and lower houses.
Critics have said that any law is likely to stigmatise French citizens with dual nationality, such as those from former French colonies in Africa. Under international law, governments cannot make citizens stateless.
Earlier on Tuesday, Nicolas Sarkozy, the former Right-wing president, backed the plan and criticised opponents, saying “with 130 people killed, we made a commitment never to behave like small-minded politicians in the face of such a tragedy”.
France is in the process of extending until the end of May a state of emergency that was declared on the heels of the attacks.
In the run-up to Tuesday’s vote, the resignation of France’s justice minister over the issue and dissent among other members of the Socialist party had raised doubts about the chances of the constitutional changes being adopted.