Corsica is a western Mediterranean island, currently one of the 13 metropolitan regions of the French Republic. The country differs from the rest of France because of its insularity, its particular language and culture, and, politically, because of the existence of a national movement of its own that demands self-government for Corsica.
A Genoese possession since the Middle Ages, Corsica pursued its independence from 1754 under the leadership of Pasquale Paoli, who proclaimed a modern, sovereign state under the principle of separation of powers. France assisted Genoa against Paoli’s revolt and annexed the island in 1769. In a second attempt coordinated with the United Kingdom, Paoli promoted the establishment of an Anglo-Corsican kingdom between 1794 and 1796. It did not succeed, and the island was again annexed by France.
Over the 19th and 20th centuries, French power in Corsica was consolidated. Several powerful local families, by means of the clan structure, became intermediaries between the French administration and Corsican citizens, which gave them a remarkable power.
In the second half of the 20th century Corsica underwent a remarkable tourist development that attracted new residents to the island, which were joined by 20,000 Algerian Pied-Noirs in 1962. These events had their consequences in the increase of urbanization of Corsica, environmental degradation, decline of the Corsican language and rise in prices. Against that backdrop, several Corsican national parties and grassroots organizations were established in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the pro-independence armed group FLNC.
In 1982 the French National Assembly approved a Corsican Statute which created a Corsican Assembly, albeit with no law-making powers. In 1988, in an act of great symbolic importance, the Corsican Assembly approved a deliberation in which it affirmed the existence “of the Corsican people”. Assembly powers were expanded in 1991 and again in 2002 (Matignon Process), again without legislative power. In 2015, for the first time in history, a Corsican political alliance (Pè a Corsica, made up by pro-autonomy and pro-independence parties) won the election to the Corsican Assembly.
Politics and administration
Until the end of 2017 Corsica has had three main administrative bodies, namely the Territorial Collectivity —which includes the Assembly (deliberative, without legislative power) and the Executive Council (government)— and the two departments of Haute Corse and Corse-du-Sud, created in 1976. From 2018 onwards, the powers of those three bodies will be merged into a new, single body, the Collectivity of Corsica.
Corsican nationalism had long been divided into a wide array of parties. However, since 2009, several convergence processes have taken place, giving rise to three main poles: Femu a Corsica, Corsica Libera and Rinnovu Naziunale. Femu a Corsica (centre and centre-left) is a pro-autonomy party founded in 2017 as the merger of the Party of the Corsican Nation (PNC), Inseme and Chjama Naziunale. Corsica Libera (left) is the main pro-independence organization. It was founded in 2009, as the merger of several previous parties. Femu a Corsica and Corsica Libera have been holding, since 2015, an alliance under the name of Pè a Corsica, which aims to achieve a Statute of Autonomy for Corsica. It is, by far, the main force of Corsican nationalism. To the left of Corsica Libera falls pro-independence Rinnovu Naziunale, which advocates a referendum on self-determination within 15 years.
President: Gilles Simeoni, Pè a Corsica (since 2015)
Political system: Territorial collectivity within the unitary French state
Distribution of seats in Parliament (2017 election). 63 members:
Pè a Corsica (Femu a Corsica and Corsica Libera alliance, pro-autonomy and pro-independence, centre-left and centre) - 41
La voie de l'avenir (right-wing, regionalism) - 10
La République en Marche (LREM, liberal centre, unionism) - 6
Les Républicains (conservative, unionism) - 6
Electoral system: proportional with majority bonus
Government: Pè a Corsica
Official site of the Territorial Collectivity of Corsica www.corse.fr
Femu a Corsica www.femuacorsica.com
Corsica Libera www.corsicalibera.com
Language and Culture
Corsican culture www.linguacorsa.net
Alta Frequenza, a Corsican radio channel www.alta-frequenza.com
(Last updated December 2017.)