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1ST LEAD Nationalists celebrate victory in Corsica assembly vote By Pól Ó Grádaigh and Sabine Glaubitz, dpa

Europe
10.12.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Paris (dpa) - Corsican nationalists were celebrating a clear victory on Sunday as they cemented their control of the French Mediterranean island in the second round of elections for a new regional assembly.

Gilles Simeoni and his Pe a Corsica (For Corsica) nationalist alliance won 56.5 per cent of the votes cast, French media reported on Sunday evening after polls had closed.

The result was no surprise: Activists in favour of autonomy had joined forces with independence supporters to put together a slate that won 45.4 per cent of last week‘s first-round vote.

The result will give the nationalists‘ demand for greater autonomy from Paris greater weight, although Simeoni has made it clear that they are not going to be seeking independence any time soon.

"Corsica is not Catalonia," he wrote for newspaper Le Monde last month. Instead, his grouping seeks to agree an autonomy deal within three years, and bring it into force within 10.

They also seek joint official status for the Corsican language, which is close to Italian, and amnesty for prisoners linked to the radical Corsican National Liberation Front (FLNC).

Moderate nationalists have been a growing political force on the island - whose population numbers about 330,000 - especially since the FLNC laid down its arms in 2014.

Simeoni and pro-independence ally Jean-Guy Talamoni have run the regional executive and assembly since 2015.

But how Paris will respond to their demands remains to be seen. Simeoni has complained that centrist President Emmanuel Macron has not been receptive to Corsican aspirations since his election in May.

With the lowest-ranked parties eliminated, the nationalists had faced off against two centre-right lists as well as supporters of Macron in Sunday‘s second-round vote.

 

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