From our regional correspondent
“I thought that the arrival of the nationalists would sign a fruitful alternative. In particular because of the personalities who made up this alliance. I know Gilles Simeoni well, he’s a man of dialogue ”, begins Laurent Marcangeli, various right-wing mayor of Ajaccio. The courtesies stop there and the elected official jokes: “But there is a long way from the cup to the lips …” Laurent Marcangeli, an indispensable figure on the island right, and Gilles Simeoni, a charismatic outgoing president of the Collectivité de Corse, are both candidates for the presidency of the Corsican executive. And their duel overshadows most of the debates and obscures the other contenders (1). « No list on the left, one on the right, the disunited nationalists in four lists… The ballot promises to be open, even if two lists seem to have to be placed above the others ”, analyzes political scientist André Fazi.
On the one hand, Laurent Marcangeli, 40, who describes himself as “A right-wing man with social sensitivity”. Very established in southern Corsica, he won the mayoralty of Ajaccio in 2014 (re-elected in the first round in 2020). On the other, Gilles Simeoni, born in 1967, long in the shadow of his father, Edmond, a guardian figure of modern Corsican nationalism. In 2014, this man from the north of the island abducted the town hall of Bastia. But his brilliance is to obtain, by allying with the pro-independence Jean-Guy Talamoni, the majority (relative in 2015, absolute in 2017) in the Assembly of Corsica. At the head of the Pè a Corsica coalition, the duo offers unprecedented power to Corsican nationalists.
Gilles Simeoni and Laurent Marcangeli chose a close strategy, seeking to rally beyond their camp. The mayor of Ajaccio, who wants to “Less partisan governance”, leads Un Soffiu Novu, a list on the right that also includes candidates from the center and the center left. « Moderate left and right can be found behind him in the name of moderation in relations with the state », Asks the political scientist.
At the risk of ruining his former (and perhaps future) nationalist allies, Gilles Simeoni gathers under the banner Fà Populu Inseme a team led by a “Willingness to be open to all Corsicans and all living forces.” », He assures us. ” For him, openness is a complicated exercise, because he must broaden the spectrum but remain faithful to his fundamentals. ”Continues André Fazi. The other members of the outgoing coalition – Corsica Libera by Jean-Guy Talamoni or Partitu di a nazione corsa (PNC) by Jean-Michel Angelini – saw in his approach a ” hegemonic attitude ».
Even in his camp, the outgoing president suffers other criticisms, on his record at the head of the executive. At the head of this new institution, born from the merger between region and departments in 2018, with an annual budget of 1.3 billion euros, he had many expectations among nationalist activists, some of whom have remained in the boxes: autonomy of the island, co-officiality of the Corsican language, fight against speculation, rapprochement of political prisoners …
Laurent Marcangeli is targeting community reform, “One of the most obvious failures of this term, not to mention waste management, town planning, the abandonment of rural areas. “ Gilles Simeoni retorts “That the best way forward is to ensure the victory of the nationalists again. “ Will Corsican voters follow him? He is the one who has the most to lose in this election. A failure would be his, but more broadly that of all nationalists.