Nationalists win Corsican election

The nationalists have won a clear victory in the territorial elections on the French island of Corsica. After clinching the first round with more than 45 percent they garnered 56.5 percent of the vote in the second round. Observers note that the demands of the Corsican nationalists will now be taken more seriously. Commentators recommend strategies for dealing with nationalist movements.

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Le Soir (BE) /

Europe as a bulwark against nationalism

Nationalism has once again eared its ugly head across Europe and not just in Catalonia or Corsica, Le Soir observes:

“Whether it's in Germany, Spain, France, Britain, Belgium or Hungary, populist, identity-based movements are spreading the poison of new divisions and borders, to the horror of anyone who has read even a little history. Whatever else anyone may say about it, the European Union constitutes a bulwark against those who preach exclusion, hatred, and the doctrine of everyone for him or herself. Europe defines itself as representing unity in diversity and promotes a union of states and citizens from different cultures and languages rather than the parallel existence of peoples whose identities are based on nationalist, territorial claims. Hence it's all the less likely to support those who want to redefine themselves on the basis of a hatred of their neighbours like that championed by nationalism, which is always in search of an enemy.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Citizens give nation states their power

Political scientist Vincent Laborderie explains in Le Monde why France has such difficulty with the Corsican nationalists:

“The European construction had already at least questioned, if not challenged, the sovereignty of nation states. Now the situation is being made more complex by intra-state competition [on the part of autonomy movements], which reminds the states of an uncomfortable truth: they are nothing but social constructions. Neither absolute nor eternal, they wield a power which in democratic societies derives only from the legitimacy that people are willing to grant them. ... In multinational states like Canada, Switzerland or Belgium, such sovereigntist aspirations are worked into the country's institutional fabric. But the French unitary state - and above all its conception of the nation state - seem unable to cope with such diversity.”

Libération (FR) /

A wolf in a tricolour sheep's clothing

The nationalists' victory will have serious consequences for France, Libération warns:

“With the 'natios'' flawless victory on Sunday a new era begins in the history of the Republic: the still-Jacobin France will have to engage in autonomy negotiations with the newly elected politicians, talks which could sooner or later lead to the island's independence. Because while the winners are using coy language and dressing the wolf in a tricolour sheepskin, their goals have not changed. What they want is to politically separate this distant and not entirely French island from the continent. ... That will be a hairy undertaking. At least the separatist victory has one virtue: putting an end to the armed conflict and placing it firmly in the realm of politics, with words replacing bullets.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Success without confrontation

The Catalans should take a leaf out of the Corsicans' book, Der Standard writes:

“The 'new' Corsican autonomists are pinning their hopes on a strategy that doesn't entail open enmity with Paris and for that reason is supposed to lead to gradual victories - but it is expected to take a very long time. ... Like in the Basque Country or in South Tyrol the rejection of violence and support for a discourse conducted with self-confidence is regarded as more likely to achieve results - a clever and modern strategy in principle. The Corsican autonomists' success in the elections confirms the effectiveness of their masterminds' strategy: Paris must finally take their democratically legitimised demands seriously and make certain concessions - or at least give credible indications that it is willing to start a dialogue.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Macron only has himself to blame

This is the price Macron is paying for having neglected the island, La Stampa complains:

“Since his election Macron hasn't paid the island a single visit, nor has he made any mention of the Corsicans' demands. And that's not all, as political scientist Jérome Fourquet underlines: The role En Marche! has claimed for itself, namely to send the traditional parties 'home', has been taken over by the separatists on Corsica. The separatists have gained credibility in the fight against corrupt politics on the island (especially since the 'Macronists' there are for the most part recycled Socialists). Moreover the nationalists are capitalising on the social discontent, because Corsica is the poorest region in France.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

The Catalans can learn from the Corsicans

The Corsican separatists are far more in touch with reality than the Catalan separatists, El Periódico de Catalunya comments:

“Here, moderation and realism seem to have the upper hand. ... The nationalists' agenda currently consists of Corsica getting a statute of autonomy and its own legislature as well as recognition of Corsican as a second official language. Not even the leader of the separatists, Guy Talamoni, has any plans for secession in the near future. All sides are aware of the balance of power. And quite rightly, no one wants to be a David who loses to a Goliath who on top of everything else is more centralist than most.”