Corsican nationalism

Last updated

Flag of Corsica. It is similar to the traditional flag of Sardinia, Italy. Flag of Corsica.svg
Flag of Corsica. It is similar to the traditional flag of Sardinia, Italy.
Location of Corsica Europe location Corsica.png
Location of Corsica

Corsican nationalism is a nationalist movement in Corsica, France, active since the 1960s, that advocates more autonomy for the island, if not outright independence.

Nationalism is a political, social, and economic ideology and movement characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining the nation's sovereignty (self-governance) over its homeland. Nationalism holds that each nation should govern itself, free from outside interference (self-determination), that a nation is a natural and ideal basis for a polity, and that the nation is the only rightful source of political power. It further aims to build and maintain a single national identity—based on shared social characteristics such as culture, language, religion, politics, and belief in a shared singular history—and to promote national unity or solidarity. Nationalism, therefore, seeks to preserve and foster a nation's traditional culture, and cultural revivals have been associated with nationalist movements. It also encourages pride in national achievements, and is closely linked to patriotism. Nationalism is often combined with other ideologies, such as conservatism or socialism for example.

Corsica Island in the Mediterranean, also a region and a department of France

Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 regions of France. It is located southeast of the French mainland and west of the Italian Peninsula, with the nearest land mass being the Italian island of Sardinia to the immediate south. A single chain of mountains makes up two-thirds of the island.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.


Political support

The main separatist party (Corsica Libera) achieved 9.85% of votes in the French regional elections, 2010; [1] however, only 19% and 42% of those who voted respectively for Simeoni's autonomist list Femu a Corsica and Talamoni's separatist Corsica Libera were, according to polling, in favour of independence. [2] [3] By 2012, polls showed support for independence at 10-15%, [3] while support for increased devolution within France was as high as 51% (of which two thirds would prefer "slightly more" rather than "much more" autonomy). [4] Among the general French population, 30% of respondents expressed a favourable view on Corsican independence. [5] In what was viewed as a "setback" for Nicolas Sarkozy's decentralisation program, the government's proposal for increased autonomy for Corsica was turned down in a referendum in 2003 by a result of 51% negative and 49% affirmative votes expressed by the local electorate.

Corsica Libera is a left-wing separatist political party active in Corsica. It was founded in Corte in February 2009 by members of three nationalist parties, Corsica Nazione, Rinnovu and the Corsican Nationalist Alliance

Party of the Corsican Nation political party

The Party of the Corsican Nation is a Corsican nationalist and autonomist political party on the French island of Corsica. It was founded in Corte in 2002 by members of three nationalist parties, Union of the Corsican People (UPC), A Scelta Nova and A Mossa Naziunale.

Opinion poll type of survey

An opinion poll, often simply referred to as a poll or a survey, is a human research survey of public opinion from a particular sample. Opinion polls are usually designed to represent the opinions of a population by conducting a series of questions and then extrapolating generalities in ratio or within confidence intervals.

In 2015, Gilles Simeoni's pro-autonomy coalition Pè a Corsica won for the first time ever in the French regional elections, getting 35.34% of the vote and 24 out of 51 seats in the Corsican Assembly. [6] [7]

Pè a Corsica organization

Pè a Corsica is a Corsican nationalist political party in France, which calls for more autonomy for Corsica. More specifically, it is a coalition of the two Corsican nationalist parties active on the island; that is, the moderately autonomist Femu a Corsica and the strongly committed separatist Corsica Libera (which won respectively 17,62% and 7,73% of the vote in the first round of the 2015 French regional elections. The party is led by the autonomist Gilles Simeoni. The alliance was renewed for the 2017 territorial election.


The Corsican Republic (1755–1769)

A sense of Corsican particularity can be traced back to the mid-18th century, when the island was fought over by the Genoese Republic, the Kingdom of France, and the Kingdom of England. Pascual Paoli led a rebellion by Corsicans against the various foreign powers contesting the island, founding a short-lived independent state governed from Corte. Inspired by the Enlightenment political ideas currently becoming fashionable in Europe, Paoli set up a liberal constitutional republic: a deliberative assembly, the Diet, was elected through universal manhood suffrage, with evidence to suggest that female suffrage also existed. Paoli's practical exercise in Enlightened constitutional government was inspired by thinkers such as Voltaire and Rousseau, but also in turn inspired them, being the sole example of their political philosophies put into practice until the American Revolution a decade later. The French conquest of 1767 put an end to the experiment (with the exception of a brief English-governed separation from France during the French Revolutionary Wars), and the island was incorporated into the Kingdom of France. The memory of the brief period of self-rule would act as an inspiration to later regionalist and nationalist movements, even as many among Corsica's educated elites accepted a place in the French state, with Napoleon Bonaparte becoming the French head of state less than thirty years after the island was conquered by France.

Republic of Genoa former state on the Apennine Peninsula between 1005–1797

The Republic of Genoa was an independent state from 1005 to 1797 in Liguria on the northwestern Italian coast, incorporating Corsica from 1347 to 1768, and numerous other territories throughout the Mediterranean.

Kingdom of France kingdom in Western Europe from 843 to 1791

The Kingdom of France was a medieval and early modern monarchy in Western Europe. It was one of the most powerful states in Europe and a great power since the Late Middle Ages and the Hundred Years' War. It was also an early colonial power, with possessions around the world.

Kingdom of England historic sovereign kingdom on the British Isles (927–1649; 1660–1707)

The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

The Fin-de-Siècle and the Interwar (1890–1940)

As with most European national-separatist movements, the 1890s saw the first stirrings of a consciousness of a distinct regional way of life, and the first ideas that regional culture should be reflected in distinct political institutions. With Corsica in an agricultural depression, misruled by powerful local political bosses, subject to mass emigration devastating rural communities, and increasingly confronted by the culture of the French state (which was encouraging cultural assimilation and administrative centralisation, through the establishment of the countrywide laic school system), stirrings began of a movement to defend the Corsican language and way of life.

Cultural assimilation is the process in which a minority group or culture comes to resemble those of a dominant group. The term is used to refer to both individuals and groups; the latter case can refer to a range of social groups, including ethnic minorities, immigrants, indigenous peoples, and other marginalized groups such as sexual minorities who adapt to being culturally dominated by another societal group.

Jules Ferry laws

The Jules Ferry Laws are a set of French laws which established free education in 1881, then mandatory and laic (secular) education in 1882. Jules Ferry, a lawyer holding the office of Minister of Public Instruction in the 1880s, is widely credited for creating the modern Republican school. The dual system of state and church schools that were largely staffed by religious officials was replaced by state schools and lay school teachers. The educational reforms enacted by Jules Ferry are often attributed to a broader anti-clerical campaign in France.

The first group to do so formed in 1896 around the newspaper La Tramontana ('Beyond the Mountains'), but this small group of intellectuals remained a minority within the political landscape of the time. A new generation carried the torch with the foundation of A Cispra newspaper in 1914, which made the first demands for a Corsican political separatism: "Corsica is not a department of France. It is a nation that has been conquered and will rise again."

It was World War One that generated an audience for these previously marginal ideas. Conscription affected agrarian communities more than industrial ones, and the death-toll for France's rural regions was consequently higher than the national average, with Corsica the department with the highest ratio of casualties per capita: the trauma of losing a dozen young men in a small village caused many Corsicans to begin to question the French state. For some this prompted a desire for greater administrative decentralisation within the French Republic (this was the focus of the Estates-General of Corsica, a 1934 conference held in Ajaccio); for a few, it triggered a desire to work towards an independent Corsican state; and for yet others it, along with the perception that neighbouring Italy was being regenerated under a dynamic modern regime, prompted a desire to integrate into Fascist Italy. These different ideas were centred on the Corsican nationalist newspaper A Muvra (The Moufflon). Hostility to the French state grew following military operations on the island in 1930 to root out the popular bandit, Spada. [8]

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Mouflon common name

The mouflon is a subspecies group of the wild sheep. Populations of O. orientalis can be partitioned into the mouflons and the urials. The mouflon is thought to be the ancestor for all modern domestic sheep breeds.

1923 saw the foundation of the Partitu Corsu d'Azione, under the leadership of Petru Rocca, an Italian irredentist who initially promoted the union of Corsica to the Kingdom of Italy, and Pierre Dominique, a prominent political journalist who soon after joined France's ruling centre-left Radical-Socialist Party. World War Two modified this sentiment, as Italian troops occupied the island: after the war the sentiment evolved in favour of promoting changed to promote Corsican decentralisation, via the new Partitu Corsu Autonomista. Rocca in 1953 demanded from France the acceptance of the Corsican people and language and the creation of the University of Corte.

Corsican nationalism was a minority movement during these decades, and many Corsicans participated in the French state as administrators, soldiers, policemen and several cabinet ministers; indeed during the interwar some of the most prominent political figures within France's countrywide political organizations were Corsicans (see Jean Chiappe, Horace Carbuccia, François Piétri, Cesar Campinchi, Gabriel Péri). However, the work of the smaller intellectual, cultural and political groups formed the prehistory to the modern nationalist movement that would find a mass audience after the political crisis of 1958.

Corsica in the 1960s

The end of the 1950s saw the high point of Corsica's population and economy. Since the end of the 19th Century, Corsica had continued to decrease in population, culminating in a precarious economic situation and a huge delay in the development of industry and infrastructure.

Corsican society was then further affected by two events:

Origins of the modern regionalist movement

Many Corsicans began to become aware of the demographic decline and economic collapse of the island. The first movement appeared as the Corsican Regional Front, a group largely formed by Corsican emigrants in Paris. This evolved into Corsican Regionalist Action, which demanded that the French state take into account the island's economic difficulties and distinct cultural characteristics, notably linguistic, greatly endangered by the demographic decline and economic difficulty. These movements caused a major revival of the Corsican language, and an increase in work to protect and promote Corsican cultural traditions.

But these movements felt that their demands were being ignored and saw the state's treatment of the returnees as a sign of contempt. They argued against the idea that Corsica was made up of "virgin land" where there is no need to consult the local population on repatriation, and criticised the financial support and aid received by the new arrivals through the Society for Agricultural Development of Corsica (SOMIVAC), which had never been offered to the Corsicans.

The Aléria incident and the birth of the FLNC

FLNC militants during a statement Corbis-0000316676-003.jpg
FLNC militants during a statement

In a situation that many considered dire, the group Corsican Regionalist Action (ARC) decided to choose more radical methods of action.

On 21 August 1975, twenty members of the ARC, led by the group's leader Edmond Simeoni, occupied the Depeille cave, in the eastern plains near Aléria. Equipped with rifles and machine guns, they wanted to bring to public attention the economic situation of the island, particularly that regarding agriculture. They denounced the takeover of lands in the east of the island by "pieds-noirs" and their families. The French Interior Minister at the time, Michel Poniatowski, sent 2,000 CRS and gendarmes backed with light armoured vehicles, and ordered an attack on the 22nd at 4pm. Two gendarmes were killed during the confrontation. A week later the cabinet ordered the dissolution of the ARC. The tension rose rapidly in Bastia and scuffles broke out in the late afternoon, which turned to riots by nightfall that included armed confrontation. One member of the ARC was killed and many were wounded.

On 4 May 1976, some months after the events in Aléria, nationalist militants founded the National Liberation Front of Corsica (FLNC), a joining of Fronte Paesanu di Liberazone di a Corsica (FPCL), responsible for the bombing of a polluting Italian boat, and Ghjustizia Paolina, reputed to be the armed wing of the ARC. The founding of this new group was marked by a series of bombings in Corsica and in mainland France. A press conference was held in Casabianca, the location of the signing of the Corsican Constitution and where Pasquale Paoli declared Corsican independence in 1755. Although claiming to be influenced by Marxist ideology, most separatist leaders have been from the nationalist right or "apolitical" backgrounds.

Themes of Corsican nationalism

Road signs in Corsica with the French placenames blotted out Corsican nationalism.jpg
Road signs in Corsica with the French placenames blotted out

Corsican nationalism and international investment

The Corsican coast is less developed than mainland France's Mediterranean coast, due in part to bombings attributed to the nationalist movement against a number of second homes belonging to non-natives. [9] [10]

U Rinnovu, a Corsican nationalist movement commonly referred to as being close to a splinter group of the FLNC known as "of 22nd October", describes the construction of second homes for the benefit of non-residents as "heresy" and "against economic sense". [11] The slogan Vergogna à tè chì vendi a tò terra ("Shame on you who sell your land") is also the title of a song and nationalist anthem.

At the Matignon process under the Jospin government, Article 12 of the Matignon Accords provided for an adjustment of the coastal law making it easier to issue building permits on the Corsican coast. On the day of the discussion of this article in the Corsican Assembly, activists from the organisation A Manca Naziunale surrounded the villa of André Tarallo of the French petroleum company Elf Aquitane in Piantaredda, against the granting of contested building permits. [12] The article was subsequently rejected.

Notable people and parties



Related Research Articles

Corte, Haute-Corse Subprefecture and commune in Corsica, France

Corte is a commune in the Haute-Corse department of France on the island of Corsica. It is the fourth-largest commune in Corsica after Ajaccio, Bastia, and Porto-Vecchio.

Corse-du-Sud Department in Corsica, France

Corse-du-Sud is a former department of France consisting of the southern part of the island of Corsica. It and the other Corsican department, Haute-Corse, decided to merge with each other and the single collectivity of Corsica effective 1 January 2018, coinciding with territorial elections The people living in Corse-du-Sud are called "Southerners" (Suttanacci).

Pasquale Paoli Corsican politician

Filippo Antonio Pasquale di Paoli was a Corsican patriot, statesman and military leader who was at the forefront of resistance movements against the Genoese and later French rule in the island. He became the president of the Executive Council of the General Diet of the People of Corsica, and also designed and wrote the Constitution of the state.

LÎle-Rousse Commune in Corsica, France

L'Île-Rousse is a commune in the Haute-Corse department of France on the island of Corsica.

National Liberation Front of Corsica

The National Liberation Front of Corsica is a militant group that advocates an independent state on the island of Corsica, separate from France. The organisation is primarily present in Corsica and less so on the French mainland. A Conculta Naziunalista is often considered to be the political wing of the organisation.

The Corsicans are a Romance ethnic group. They are native to Corsica, a Mediterranean island and a territorial collectivity of France.

Aléria Commune in Corsica, France

Aléria is a commune in the Haute-Corse department of France on the island of Corsica, former bishopric and present Latin Catholic titular see. It includes the easternmost point in Metropolitan France.

History of Corsica aspect of history

That the history of Corsica has been influenced by its strategic position at the heart of the western Mediterranean and its maritime routes, only 12 kilometres (7 mi) from Sardinia, 50 kilometres (30 mi) from the Isle of Elba, 80 kilometres (50 mi) from the coast of Tuscany and 200 kilometres (120 mi) from the French port of Nice, was first proposed by the 19th-century German theorist, Friedrich Ratzel. To him is often attributed the description "mountain in the sea". Regardless of whether he used that particular phrase the idea is expressed in his magnum opus, Anthropogeographie, which calls Corsica

Ein abgeschlossenes und eigenartiges Land, das Insel und Gebirg zugleich ....

An isolated and singular land, both island and mountain ....

Italian irredentism in Corsica

Italian irredentism in Corsica was a cultural and historical movement promoted by Italians and by people from Corsica who identified themselves as part of Italy rather than France, and promoted the Italian annexation of the island.

Corsican Republic unrecognized European state (1755–1769)

In November 1755, Pasquale Paoli proclaimed Corsica a sovereign nation, the Corsican Republic, independent from the Republic of Genoa. He created the Corsican Constitution, which was the first constitution written in Italian under Enlightenment principles, including the first implementation of female suffrage, later revoked by the French when they took over the island in 1769. The republic created an administration and justice system, and founded an army.

Prehistory of Corsica

The prehistory of Corsica is analogous to the prehistories of the other islands in the Mediterranean Sea, such as Sicily, Sardinia, Malta and Cyprus, which could only be accessed by boat and featured cultures that were to some degree insular; that is, modified from the traditional Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic and Chalcolithic of European prehistoric cultures. The islands of the Aegean Sea and Crete early developed Bronze Age civilizations and are accordingly usually treated under those categories. Stone Age Crete however shares some of the features of the prehistoric Mediterranean islands.

Pietro Rocca Corsican politician

Petru Rocca was a Corsican politician and writer who supported Corsican independence from France. Initially he advocated regionalism for Corsica within the French state. He briefly supported Italian irredentism in Corsica, before returning to a position of French-Corsican regionalism before World War II.

The Corsican conflict was an nationalist conflict in Corsica during the mid 20th century and the early 21st century. Also known as the French Troubles, and the Conflict in Corsica, it is sometimes described as a "guerrilla war" or a "low-level war". The conflict began in 1976.

The 2015 Corsican protests were a series of marches by several hundred Corsican nationalists that began on 25 December, in Ajaccio, capital of Corsica. During the initial demonstrations, a Muslim prayer hall was burned down and Qur'ans were set alight. Further protests were organised after the initial march despite a government ban on protests until 4 January 2016. The protesters claimed to be acting in revenge for an incident that occurred the day prior when firefighters and police were assaulted in the neighbourhood of Jardins de l'Empereur; however, outside observers labeled the ensuing riots as anti-Arab and anti-Muslim. The Corsican nationalist politicians have claimed their view does not legitimise xenophobia, blaming the protest on French nationalism instead. Scholarly opinions on this claim are divided.

The 2017 Corsican territorial elections were held on 3 and 10 December 2017 to elect 63 members of the Corsican Assembly who in turn will determine the composition of the Executive Council of Corsica. The elections, held only two years after the 2015 territorial elections, were called as a result of the planned creation of a single collectivity within Corsica resulting from the mergers of two departments and the existing territorial collectivity of Corsica.

The 2003 Nice bombing was a double bomb attack in the city of Nice, France on 20 July 2003. Sixteen people were injured in the blast against the regional directorates of customs and the treasury. The Corsican separatist National Liberation Front of Corsica (FLNC) group claimed responsibility, and was one of the biggest bombs exploded by the group on the French mainland.

Edmond Simeoni French politician

Edmond Simeoni was a Corsican politician and nationalist. He was the brother of Max Simeoni, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1989 to 1994 and father of Gilles Simeoni.


  1. Résultats des élections régionales 2010, Ministère de l'Intérieur
  2. "Les Corses plus indépendantistes aujourd'hui qu'il y a 40 ans", Corse-Matin , 9 August 2012 (in French)
  3. 1 2 Jérôme Fourquet, François Kraus, Alexandre Bourgine - Les Corses et leur perception de la situation sur l’île: Résultats détaillés
  4. Jérôme Fourque - Enquête sur la situation en Corse: Résultats détaillés
  5. Les Français et l’indépendance de la Corse - Résultats détaillés, IFOP, October 2012 (in French)
  6. Territoriales : les résultats définitifs du second tour - France 3 Corse ViaStella (in French)
  7. Elections régionales et des assemblées de Corse, Guyane et Martinique 2015, Interior Ministry of France (in French)
  8. J Pellegrinetti and A Rovere. La Corse et la République: la Vie Politique de la Fin du Second Empire au Début du XXIe Siècle. Paris, 2004. pp 230-50
  9. "Recrudescence d'attentats contre des villas en Corse", Le Figaro , 24 April 2006
  10. Marc Pivois, Les assurances ne veulent prendre aucun risque en Corse, Libération , 7 October 2004
  11. U Rinnovu
  12. Communiqué de Manca Naziunale Archived 20 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  13. Xavier Monnier, Parties de belote aux Baumettes Archived 14 September 2008 at , Bakchich , 28 July 2008
  14. Antoine Albertini, Trafic de cannabis : Gilbert Casanova, ex-figure du nationalisme corse, interpellé, Le Monde , 24 June 2008
  15. Frank McLynn (1998). Napoleon. Pimlico. ISBN   0712662472.