In brief

Corsican nationalism grows stronger in first round of French territorial election

Abertzale left party wins nearly 25% of votes in Northern Basque Country

Simeoni at a Femu a Corsica meeting.
Simeoni at a Femu a Corsica meeting. Author: Femu a Corsica
Corsican nationalist parties won 57.7% of the votes in the first round of the election to the Corsican Assembly on 20 June. Pro-autonomy Femu a Corsica, led by the president of the Corsican government, Gilles Simeoni, emerged as the single largest party (29.2% of the votes).

Doubts had been raised about the ability of the Corsican parties to maintain their current electoral hegemony, given the possible erosion they might face after six years in government, and also given their internal division: whereas in 2017 they had run in two lists, they were now split in four. Two of them, in the pro-autonomy camp: the aforementioned Femu a Corsica and that of Jean-Christophe Angelini, the Corsican Nationalist Party (PNC); and the other two in the pro-independence camp: Corsica Libera, led by the president of the Corsican Assembly, Jean-Guy Talamoni, and Paul-Félix Benedetti’s Core in Fronte.

The result of the first round means that Corsican nationalists have improved by more than 5 percentage points their result on the first round of the 2017 election.

To qualify for the second round, 27 June, and also to be allocated seats in the Corsican Assembly, parties are required to obtain at least 7% of the votes. This is the case for the following four lists: Femu a Corsica, PNC (13.2%), Core in Fronte (8.4%), and the only French unionist conservative alliance to have overcome the threshold: Laurent Marcangeli’s (24.9%), bringing together Les Républicains, UDI, and the Bonapartist Central Committee.

A Simeoni-Marcangeli duel for victory is on the horizon. Winning means receiving a bonus of 11 seats, essential to control the 63-seat Assembly. The French unionist candidate is expected to find it difficult to garner support from candidates that have been eliminated in the first round. This might not be the case for the two pro-autonomy candidates, who can seek the support from the greens or try to attract Corsica Libera to their own list. Even if Corsica Libera has been eliminated from the race, it nonetheless still qualifies to merge with another party, as it has overcome the 5% threshold required to do so. Such a merger could bring more votes to the pro-autonomy list that strikes a deal with them, while assuring that Corsica Libera could win some seats through the newly merged list —this is the only way for Talamoni’s party to keep a place in the upcoming Corsican Assembly.

Rise of the Basque abertzale party

At the same time as the Corsican election, all the regional and departmental elections have been held in the rest of the French Republic. Next Monday 28th we will offer you all those results in more detail, once the second round has been held and the make-up of the assemblies and councils is known.

In any case, the rise of a Basque left-wing abertzale party can already be mentioned. Euskal Herria Bai has become the second strongest list in the Northern Basque Country, with almost 25% of the votes, only behind the French centre-right list, in the election to department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques. EH Bai has qualified to contest the second round in 7 out of 12 constituencies in the Northern Basque Country.

In Brittany, the Breton Democratic Union (UDB) has qualified for the second round of the regional election under the Bretagne d’Avenir umbrella —an alliance with Europe Ecology. This green-autonomist alliance has won 14.8% of the votes.

In Alsace, pro-autonomy Unser Land has won between 15 and 20 per cent of the votes in several constituencies of the European Collectivity of Alsace election. However, it has only managed to qualify for the second round in one of them, in Sankt Ludwig (Saint-Louis).

Meanwhile, a pro-autonomy list run by the Occitan Party (POC) in the Provence regional election has won 2.2% of the votes. Although this figure leaves it a long way from being able to stand in the second round, it is a relatively remarkable outcome for POC if we take into account the very poor records that Occitan nationalism has had in previous elections.

Non-European territories

Of the five non-European territories that also voted yesterday (French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion, and Mayotte), it is worth to mention a combined 51% of the votes won separately by two left-wing alliances in Guiana led by candidates (Gabriel Serville and Jean-Paul Fereira) who have spoken about the need for greater autonomy for the South American country within the French Republic. The list of outgoing president Rodolphe Alexandre (44.3% of the votes) also seeks a model of enlarged autonomy which, however, his opponents say is tantamount to a certain immobilism. Serville and Fereira are considering merging their lists for the second round.

In Martinique, Serge Letchimy’s pro-autonomy PPM (the party established in 1958 by Aimé Césaire) and incumbent president Alfred Marie-Jeanne’s pro-independence alliance are predicted to vie for victory. Despite their theoretical orientations, neither of the two lists run under a manifesto seeking to change the current status of Martinique’s relationship with France.