As nationalist sentiment sweeps Europe, France is discovering that it is not immune to this new zeitgeist.
Corsica, the Mediterranean island and French territory, is following in the steps of Catalonia and Scotland in its battle for autonomy. While all of these territories have been effectively suppressed or placated by their respective parent nations, each new fight calls new attention to Europe’s rich history of colonial powers.
French president Emmanuel Macron headed to Corsica this week in remembrance of the 1998 assassination of French prefect Claude Erignac. He was met with strong demands from Corsicans, as well as a peaceful protest. But what do these islanders want?
For starters, Corsica is not mentioned in the French constitution, something Corsican nationalists want changed that will be a tough pill for Macron and his party to swallow. They also want resident status for Corsicans, inclusion of the Corsican language alongside French as the island’s national language, and pardon for certain political prisoners. That would include Pierre Alessandri, Alain Ferrandi, and Yvan Colonna, the men responsible for the assassination of Erignac, the very man whose death Macron went to the island to honor.
It is doubtful that these demands will go through, but their very asking is a sign of the changing times.