At present, every car in France has the identity number of the department in which it is registered featured on it's number plate - Paris is 75 and Dordogne is 24, for example. It was announced last year, however, that the system is to be abolished, and that from the beginning of 2009 number plates will be issued on a national basis.
This proposed change has prompted growing opposition from all political parties, with letters delivered to the minister of the interior complaining about the disappearance of this "mark of belonging to a territory, a native soil, an identity" and calling for the departmental number to be retained.
The leader of the campaign explained further: "When we see a driver who's not from our neck of the woods, we are even more vigilant, because we know that he can get lost and drive dangerously."
Another opponent, a senior politician, says ""we're always looking for other 62s. Think of all the encounters, all the friendships that have been created. There have even been marriages as a result of number plates."
It would appear that the revolt has little chance of making a diffence, as the official response is simple. When the new system comes about, there will be a space, to the right of the number plate, for proud motorists to affix the number of their departments, should they wish. Whether this will become a popular option or not will be seen in the new year...
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