French plan to erase internal borders, cut bureaucracy draws ire

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PARIS (AP) — The French government's plan to redraw the national map and merge regions whose identity has run strong for centuries is drawing fierce criticism.

The plan, released Tuesday, would decrease the number of administrative regions from 22 to 14.

France now includes the 22 regions, 100-plus departments and no fewer than 36,000 towns —all with administrative layers that French President Francois Hollande says are a bureaucratic burden.

Among the proposed mergers, which some critics compare to feudal forced marriages, are the combination of Alsace and Lorraine, High and Low Normandy, and Champagne-Ardenne and Picardie in the north. Among the fiercest opponents are lawmakers, many of whom will vote on the plan in parliament, who stand to lose jobs in regional elections next year.

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