The demonstration was called by the Democratic Coordination of Brittany, an umbrella organization that has called for a new rally in Rennes on 8 December.
The organizations are demanding a referendum so that the department of Loire Atlantique —which in the past belonged to Brittany but is now attached to the region of the Pays de la Loire — be reunited with the official region of Brittany. Loire Atlantique, with Nantes as its capital, was detached from Brittany during the German occupation of France in 1941. The decision was upheld by the republican authorities in 1956.
French law allows a department to leave one region to join another one. The assemblies of the two regions and of the department must separately vote by a majority of three fifths for the change, which must finally be validated by the Council of State. This procedure will be valid until 1 March 2019.
Although such a majority could be easily reached in the region of Brittany, it is unlikely that the assembly of the Pays de la Loire would accept it. Regional president Christelle Morançais says the issue is “closed”.
Regarding the department, Bretagne Réunie association wants to force it to officially debate on the issue by collecting 100,000 signatures. The organization says that for now it has already collected more than 80,000.