Robert Harneis TDO- (FRANCE) The governing nationalist ‘For Corsica’ alliance routed mainland French parties on Sunday, winning 45.36% of the vote in the first round of the regional elections. The coalition assembles those in favor of independence as well as those seeking greater autonomy. Coalition leader Gilles Simeoni declared ‘I think that today Corsica is sending a very strong signal to Paris and that a large majority is saying: we want peace, we want democracy, we want to build an emancipated island,’ describing it as ‘a democratic tidal wave’.
The leader of independentist Corsica Libera, part of the coalition, Jean-Guy Talamoni, said that the result surpassed the nationalists' own expectations and showed that ‘for Corsicans, Corsica is a nation’ adding ‘If a majority of Corsicans want independence, in 10 or 15 years, nobody will be able to oppose it’.
Apart from the fact that 45,36% is not ‘a majority’, the coalition win was diminished by the high level of abstentions (48%) for an election that the coalition wants to use as a reason for more autonomy.
The Regional Right came second from nowhere to 14.97%, whilst the Front National vote collapsed to 3.28% and they are eliminated from the second round.
The disunited mainland parties all did badly. There is no coalition to represent those that wish to remain with France. President Macron’s LREM came fourth with 11.26. They were beaten by the third place DVD party, 12.77%, which is supported by the national opposition center right Republicans.
However, bearing in mind that the nationalist coalition has put forward anti-migrant and pro local employment policies, the combined right vote is overwhelming. It is not an encouraging election result for the Left and the internationalists of which President of France is one.
After the elections the Nationalists called for greater autonomy from France but ruled out an imminent bid for independence.
The separatist National Liberation Front of Corsica (FLNC) waged a forty year bombing campaign targeting mainly state infrastructure before announcing a ceasefire in 2014. In the worst incident in 1998 the government representative on the island, Prefect Claude Erignac, was assassinated.
The nationalist coalition will win the second round of the elections but the quality of their victory will be determined by how the majority abstentionists decide to act in the second round.
Unlike Spanish Catalonia, Corsica is not a rich region of France and receives a net subsidy every year from Paris. To this the nationalists reply that the poverty of the island is the result of the 200-year French occupation and that previously it was a prosperous part of the Mediterranean economy.
The island has a population of only 330,000 but is important to France as a strategically placed military base.