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Corsican nationalists made historic gains in the first round of elections for the new island-wide assembly this weekend. Leaders of the nationalist alliance challenged the government to draw up plans for “real autonomy” within three years.

The Pè a Corsica (For Corsica) slate, an alliance of Gilles Simeoni’s autonomist Femu a Corsica (Let’s Make Corsica) and Jean-Guy Talamoni’s pro-independence Corsica libera (Free Corsica), won 45.36 percent of the votes in Sunday’s first round, leaving them almost certain to be able to control the assembly after the second round on 10 December.

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Although turnout was low, at 52.17 percent, the nationalists were in ebullient mood as the results came through.

“This is a very strong message to Paris,” Simeoni said. “We want peace, we want democracy, we want to construct an emancipated island. It’s up to Paris to take steps so that we can work out a political solution together.”

In the 2015 elections for the two assemblies that have since been abolished they won 35.34 percent in the second round, a result that was hailed as a breakthrough for them but only allowed them to form minority adminstrations.

The Corsican representatives of parties based in mainland France received small and, in some cases, derisory votes on Sunday, with the runner-up being a Corsican regionalist grouping and the the far-right National Front (FN) unable to stand in the second round.   Read more