Bretons, Alsatians to keep opposition to new map of France

Alsace will be merged into Eastern macro-region, Alsatian MPs to file an appeal at Constitutional Council · Rally in front on National Assembly called on Saturday · Departments are granted non-unilateral option to leave one region and join another one

Bretons and Alsatians are set to keep continued opposition to the new territorial map of France, which the French National Assembly yesterday definitively approved. The new division (click on map to enlarge it) leaves only 13 official regions instead of the current 22. Alsace will be subsumed into an Eastern macro-region alongside Lorraine and Champagne-Ardenne. Brittany will not get reunification with Loire-Atlantique, at least for the time being.

The new map was approved with the support of Socialist Party (PS) MPs and the opposition of most MPs of conservative party UMP, left-wing radicals, ecologists and communists.

The two Normandy regions will be merged into a single one, while Corsica will remain unotouched. Northern Catalonia will keep its place within an enlarged Occitan region made up of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrenees, and the same will apply to the Northern Basque Country, which is set to stay within a new macro-region consisting of Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes.

Protests and demostrations against the new map have been led by the Breton and Alsatian movements. Alsatian UMP MPs and senators yesterday announced they would be filing an appeal at the Constitutional Council. They argue that boundaries of territorial collectivities cannot be modified without prior consultation to institutions concerned. The party also said that the map reform is just intended to meet the interests of "PS barons" and that it is being made with "no respect for history, geography or economy."

Thousands of Alsatians have rallied several times against the merger of Alsace with its neighboring regions and for an ad-hoc referendum. The most recent mobilization took place last Saturday.

Breton regionalists and nationalists too are outraged by the National Assembly decision, as it does not take into consideration the reunification of Brittany with the department of Loire-Atlantique. This department used to be an integral part of Brittany, but it was detached from it in 1941 and now belongs to the region of Pays-de-la-Loire.

The Bonnets Rouges are calling for a demonstration on Saturday 20th in front of the French National Assembly to protest against the new map. The organizers have called "Alsatian, Corsican, Occitan, Basque, Savoyard, Catalan and all regions' friends" to join the rally.

There is still an open door for Breton reunification. The law on the territorial reorganization provides that departments will be able to leave one region and join a neighbouring one from 2016 to 2019. However, they have not been granted a unilateral right to it. The move will require a three-fifths majority in both regional councils involved -in this case, Brittany and Pays-de-la-Loire- and also in the department's General Council -the Loire-Atlantique. Thus, Pays-de-la-Loire councilors will be able to block Loire-Atlantique secession if they so wish.

(Image: the new map as approved by the National Assembly / Image by Roulex45.)