Corsican national parties win historic victory

For Corsica alliance gets 35% of votes, emerges as largest party in the Assembly of Corsica · Gilles Simeoni to become new Corsican president

Celebration in the streets of Bastia.
Celebration in the streets of Bastia. Author: Tieri Paul
A coalition of pro-autonomy and pro-independence Corsican political parties made history today as they won for their first time ever the election to the Assembly of Corsica. The For Corsica alliance got 35.3% of the votes and 24 out of 51 seats in the island's Assembly, just 2 seats short of an overall majority. Mayor of Bastia Gilles Simeoni is on his way to become the new president of Corsica.

Simeoni said the victory, which came in the election's second round, shows Corsica "wants to build its own present and future." For Corsica leader added that a "deep will for a real alternative, a thirst for democracy, economic development and social justice" existed in Corsica, which led his alliance to victory.

Simeoni defeated another three candidates. Second placed was current Corsican president Paul Giacobbi, leading a pro-French centre-left list, which garnered 28.5% of the votes and 12 seats. The pro-French centre-right, led by José Rossi, came third, with 27.1% of the votes and 11 seats. Lastly, radical right French nationalist National Front, led by Christophe Canioni, was left with 9.1% of the votes and 4 seats.

One key for Simeoni's victory was unity between most Corsican national parties for the election's second round. In the first round, pro-autonomy Femu a Corsica (led by Simeoni himself) and pro-independence Corsica Libera (led by Jean-Guy Talamoni) had ran under separate lists. After earning enough votes to advance into the second round, both lists announced they would be merging. 

Besides, the For Corsica list has benefitted from an election rule which grants a 9-seat premium to the largest party.

In 2010, the list led by Giacobbi had won the election, with 24 seats. The pro-French centre-right alliance got 12, while Simeoni's Femu a Corsica earned 11 and Talamoni's Corsica Libera, 4. The National Front got no seats.

Legislative power, co-official status for Corsican

For Corsica's election manifesto says the alliance's AMs will strive for the achievement of law-making powers for Corsica. Up till now, only the French National Assembly is vested with legislative power.

The manifesto also says For Corsica will try to realize several deals previously passed by Corsican AMs but never implemented, such as co-official status for the Corsican language, the creation of a resident status, an own tax system, or freedom for political prisoners.

The implementation of those deals depends on the will of the French government, which argues those moves would be unconstitutional.

In any case, all those issues should be discussed over the following months. The Assembly of Corsica's new term will only last for two years. In 2017 another election will be called as the current Assembly will be merged with the island's two departmental councils in order to create a stronger Assembly of Corsica, vested with further powers.

For Corsica alliance says it will seek to obtain the strongest powers possible for the post-2017 Assembly in negotiations with the French government.