Corsican voters favour nationalists seeking more autonomy

PARIS - Nationalists on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica have swept the first round of elections for a territorial assembly, taking nearly 45.4 per cent of the weekend vote.

The single 63-seat assembly is to replace existing bodies as part of nationwide territorial reforms.

A coalition led by Gilles Simeoni, mayor of the northern city of Bastia and a longtime Corsican leader figure, carried the victory in Sunday's voting, according to final results Monday. The nationalists, seeking greater autonomy for Corsica but not full independence, made a mark in 2015 territorial elections, and their weekend victory was no surprise.

Simeoni insisted in a commentary in Le Monde last month that "Corsica is not Catalonia," referring to the independence movement in Spain that Madrid has tried to crush.

The second round of Corsica's voting is Sunday.

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