Autonomists hopeful to become largest party in first round of Corsican election

Femu a Corsica leads surveys in what could be landmark victory · Pro-autonomy alliance seeks to expand use of Corsican, implement social and environmental policies, strengthen ties with Mediterranean area · Term to last only two years

Gilles Simeoni
Gilles Simeoni. Author: PNC
"Hope is growing". Bastia mayor and pro-autonomy Femu a Corsica leader Gilles Simeoni yesterday reacted to an opinion poll suggesting his list could become, for the first time ever, the largest one at the first round of the upcoming December election to the Corsican Assembly. Femu a Corsica could be receiving 18% of the votes, thus overtaking a French conservative list led by Camille de Rocca Serra, which could stand at 16%.

The survey showed three parties tied at 12% of the votes: the French centre-left list led by current Corsican president Paul Giacobbi, Cristophe Canioni's Front Nationale, and another French conservative list led by José Rossi and sponsored by Les Républicains and UDI parties.

Bearing in mind that parties need to clear a 7% threshold in order to advance into the second round, another two lists could be making it into the Assembly: Jean-Guy Talamoni's pro-independence Corsica Libera (8% of the votes) and the Left Front (French communists, 7%).

In the second round, the two French conservative lists could well emerge as the largest party if they merge, thus achieving 9 extra reserved seats reserved for the winning list. If that merger does not take place, Femu a Corsica could then be able to reach the first position and get the extra seats.

In the second round of the 2010 election, the French left-wing list led by Giacobbi won 24 seats, Rocca Serra's right-wing list achieved 12, Femu a Corsica secured 11, and Corsica Libera was left with 4.

An Assembly to stay in place for just 2 years

Assembly members elected in December will only receive a two-year term. In December 2017 Corsicans will again be called to the polls as the current Assembly and the two departmental councils will be merged into one single Corsican Assembly.

Thus, it is expected that over the next two years Corsican AMs focus much of their work to prepare the transition towards the new model. A key issue will be whether Corsica will be able to receive new powers from France, to be implemented starting from 2018.

Corsican-speaking and Mediterranean

Even if the term will be short-lived, the pro-autonomy list seeks to make it into government in order to implement its manifesto, based on social policies, environment protection, and strengthening the island's unique features.

Femu a Corsica's manifesto says the party wants to build a "Corsican-speaking society" which is "open to Mediterranean and Latin countries and cultures" and helping "newcomers to integrate." In this respect, the autonomists also seek to insert the island "into the Mediterranean area," particularly into the Tuscany-Corsica-Sardinia axis. At the European level, the manifesto talks about creating a "true representation of Corsica in Brussels."

In the medium run, Femu a Corsica argues the new Corsican Assembly could be the first step towards a self-governing island, endowed with "a statute of autonomy that includes a real legislative power, similar to that existing in regions with strong identity and stateless nations in Europe. "

The Corsican Assembly can currently propose pieces of legislation, but is not allowed to pass laws of its own -this power is unique to the French Parliament.

Keywords: Corsica, election, France