PARIS (Reuters) - After winning a large majority in the French lower house this month, new President Emmanuel Macron's party will also be able to count on its own contingent of senators in the upper house, which could prove useful for constitutional reforms.
Socialist senator and Macron loyalist Francois Patriat said in a statement on Monday he had rallied enough of his fellow senators to form a group affiliated with Macron's Republic On The Move party in the Senate, whose support is key to amend the constitution.
The second chamber, which has 348 members, is currently controlled by the conservative The Republicans party, which has 143 senators, ahead of the Socialist party's 111 members and the centrist UDI party' 42 members.
Patriat, who will hold a news conference on Tuesday on the subject, has managed to poach some centrists as well as centre-left and centre-right allies, a source close to him told Reuters.
"We're about thirty at the moment," the source said, adding that up to 70 senators could eventually swing to the Republic On the Move party Macron created a bit more than a year ago.
Every three years, half of the senate's seats are renewed by a vote of mayors and other elected officials. The next senatorial election is on September 24.
Presidents can amend the constitution either by referendum or by winning support from three fifths of lawmakers from both the lower house National Assembly and the Senate, which are in this case convened in a joint session in the palace of Versailles.
Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said on Sunday Macron was considering convening such a joint session, a rare procedure, although it remained unclear for what purpose.
Reporting by Emile Picy and Michel Rose; editing by John Irish