40 years after its collapse, the FLNC between “institutional nationalism” and “return to activism”.

Thousands of attacks, civil war, headline press conferences and recent reactivation. 40 years after its dissolution by decree of the Council of Ministers on January 5, 1983, the FLNC (National Liberation Front of Corsica) returns to the rest of the armed struggle movement, its influence and the political role played by the political scientist. Thierry Dominici, from the University of Bordeaux and an expert on Corsican nationalism.

What remains of the FLNC 40 years after it was abolished by decree?

Even today, there are groups that claim this and carry out attacks. So the question arises: What is meant by FLNC? From press conferences to attacks, the FLNC has created an image in the collective imagination. The image of a social thug. And the FLNC is neither the first nor the last movement of armed struggle. But he is the first to impose himself on the collective imagination. We saw this with the youth in the recent urban violence that followed the killing of Yvan Colonna and claimed it.

What were the consequences of this collapse?

Its abolition by decree legitimized the movement and made it an enemy of the state. This is what caused the movement to go underground and become a nebula practicing terrorism. Then, in terms of political influence, the FLNC is more of a spectacle, a controlled violence with few victims compared to ETA or the IRA. Most of the human sacrifices were cannibal sacrifices, that is, for the movement itself. In fact, the FLNC did not support the democratic revolution and from the late 1980s it split into three movements, three channels (the historical channel, the ordinary channel, the union of fighters) and numerous small groups. This marked the end of its effectiveness. . To be honest, it would be more correct to speak of FLNCs in the plural form.

Didn’t the FLNC admit defeat in 2014 by declaring that they would lay down their arms and enter the democratic process?

By laying down its arms in 2014, the FLNC reached its political maturity. In fact, the movement realized after the 2010 elections that nationalists could win elections and the only sticking point was violence. In a sense, they act on the basis that they have achieved the goal of politicizing the Corsican issue. So laying down arms is more of a political strategy than a defeatist one. Leaders will find it difficult to explain this to social activists.

The major victory achieved by the FLNC in its struggle from 1976 to 2014 was the achievement of institutionalized nationalism. If it wasn’t for this fight and if they didn’t put down the gun at the right time, they wouldn’t have won this victory even if Gilles Simeoni stole a bit. This was made possible by compromising autonomy and ending violence. This allowed the alliance of nationalist and separatist leaders Jean-Christophe Angelini (Partitu di a Nazione Corsa, aka Corsican National Party), Paul-Félix Benedetti (Core in Fronte) and Petru Antone Tomasi (Liber of Corsica) with the autonomist Gilles Simeoni. (Femu a Corsico) term of office 2015-2021.

But at the end of the last elections (in 2021), Gilles Simeoni became the sole master of the ship and ruled without separatists. In doing so, he ended the post-2014 compromise, which he says forces the government to act now to ensure that the coalition is free of ex-violent supporters.

A strategy that has yet to allow the island to gain independence or greater autonomy….

Gilles Simeoni is the only person who has defeated the two traditional camps – the left and the right of the so-called government – who have ruled the island since the Third Republic. It can be said that today there is no autonomy, there is no Corsican people, it is a failure. But in the last election, nationalists won 70% because voters clearly want more decentralization. Basically, the question is administrative rather than political. Because we can defend autonomy, we can officially recognize the Corsican people, language, culture, but without autonomy in skills. I believe that regardless of their status, what is important is that Corsicans have access to more autonomy and more decentralization.

How to interpret the return of approximately fifteen alleged attacks this year?

These are the Fighters’ Union, which allegedly groups the FLNC, and October 22, groups that have never announced that they are laying down their arms. Considering the constitution of the new assembly, where Gilles Simeoni got rid of the separatists, one can think that returning to this activity is a way to remind them of their ability to act, their presence. As I said, FLNC did not dematerialize. When we look at the targets and methods of these attacks – second homes, burning or targeting tourist sites with gas canisters – we see that even in these actions they play with the imagination of the FLNC, which in terms of level. violence is capable of more. Attacking with fire instead of explosives is a way to remind us of the FLNC’s social thug beginnings.

What about the arrests in December?

These arrests are a bit worrisome, as the Corsica issue must be in the pipeline. But at the same time, after these attacks, the state resumed its policy of repression. The Pieri family was affected by these arrests. Charles Pieri is one of the actors of the Corsica Libera party, one of the former leaders of the historical FLNC channel, the FLNC, and he may try to reactivate it. His son was also arrested and charged. At 78, I can’t imagine Charles Pieri staging attacks again. But he has an image, he is the guardian figure of violence. From a simple figure, it turned into the arrest of two leaders of the FLNC since 1998.

After the assassination of Yvan Colonna, should we fear or believe in the return of the FLNC, especially among the youth?

We could believe it at first, seeing that young people are very organized. However, we saw that this urban violence, which we were able to observe very quickly, was caused by popular nationalism. So they can use the FLNC characters, which are labels like “French [I Francesi Fora] “, or little bombs marked on the walls. But to me it’s more folklore. It’s almost like if discussions with the state remain essentially political, if there’s no real progress in decentralization, if young people can’t find homes, can’t work, and continue to live in this misery, we may have new violence, but I don’t think it’s in the form of an FLNC-type organization, they operate more like a black bloc.

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