The region and the departments should merge into a single community in 2014

Under discussion for several months, the merger of the councils of the Haut-Rhin (Oberelsass) and Bas-Rhin (Niederelsass) region is entering its active phase, announced on Saturday, their presidents.

Elected officials will meet in congress in Colmar on 1st December, to discuss strategic issues and the future governance of the Council of Alsace, whose creation is expected in 2014.

The Alsatians will be consulted by referendum in the second half of 2012 on the merger, whose motto will be "unity, efficiency and convenience."

The question of the seat

"The Council of Alsace will integrate the competences currently exercised by the regional council and the two departmental councils, explains Guy-Dominique Kennel, UMP (Union de la Majorité Présidentielle, a French right-wing liberal party) president of the Bas-Rhin.
But also new competences with a transfer of powers from the French state".

"This concerns, for example, the teaching of regional languages, housing and roads" says Philippe Richert, President (UMP) in the region and Minister of Local Authorities.

"Alsace is positioned in order to provide its credentials to decentralization," he said. But also in terms of "trinational cooperation" with the Germans and Swiss, says Charles Buttner, President (UMP) of the Haut-Rhin.

For Jean Rottner and Jean-Marie Bockel, mayor (UMP) and President (Modern Left) of the agglomeration of Mulhouse, this merger is "a historic step towards a more united Alsace, to meet future challenges in a better way (...)".

Their counterparts in Strasbourg, Roland Ries and Jacques Bigot (PS, Parti Socialiste), do not share this enthusiasm and suggest that the Council of Alsace "won't get their support".
The reason: "The project to transfer the seat of the regional executive in Colmar" while keeping its legislature in Strasbourg.
"This transfer is not acceptable, because Strasbourg is the capital of the region," said the mayor and the president (PS) of the CUS (Urban Community of Strasbourg).
Answer of Charles Buttner "We need a polycentrism in Alsace, politics should not be reduced to one place. "
Translated mainly with Google Translate from here.

To make it short, there's two "departments" in Alsace : Bas-Rhin (Niedelsass) and Haut-Rhin (Oberelsass). Each of these departments have local power, but there's also an institution called "Région Alsace" which have to share the power with the 2 departmental institutions.

It often leads to a waste of time in taking decisions, sometimes decisions and ideas are abandoned because the party in power in the departments for example is not the same as the one in the region ...

So in a near future, Alsatians will have to vote to say if yes or no they want to merge these institutions in a new Council of Alsace which would be created in 2014 in Colmar.

I'm not sure if it will be a real positive change for us, but it's a bit comforting to see that those liberals leading our region still have a little will to protect our language and stuff like that.
Also, we might get more and more power in taking decisions for Alsace (now it starts with housing, roads and schools, but one could imagine we'll be able to take true political decisions that would represent the Alsatian mindset a bit better, maybe).
And well, the creation of this Council of Alsace makes me think a bit of the "Landtag des Reichslandes Elsaß-Lothringen"