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France

Majority of French support changes to France's map

media French President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

A majority of French people support changes to their country’s map. A new poll on Sunday found that 55 per cent of French people outside of the capital are in favour of abolishing the general councils that govern France’s departments, paving the way to allow some regions to meld together.

A majority of people (61 per cent) did not know the name of their department’s president, a figure that went up to 76 per cent among people under the age of 35, according to the poll published in the France's Sunday paper the Journal du Dimanche.

Dating back to Napolean’s rule, departments were created as a part of his move to centralise the government in the early 1800s and eliminate very small towns with less than 300 residents.

Now, the French government is pushing forward with a decades old plan to wipe out all of the 101 general councils by 2021 and in the coming years reduce the number of regions from 22 to 12 by January 2017.

President François Hollande announced the plan back in January, stressing that it would make life easier for residents and businesses by trimming the country's layers of bureaucracy.

The move could help France save 25 billion euros annually from the 250 billion euro local government budget.

The government believes that a redrawn map of France with a dozen major regions could better lure foreign investors to the country.

For example, Secretary of state for territorial reform André Vallini said earlier this week that France’s two Normandies can be a bit perplexing to foreigners.

In 1956, Haute Normandie and Basse Normandie were created when the historical Normandy region was split in two.

Vallini added that fusing together departments could also help streamline decision making.

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