It’s Indian summer in Ajaccio. All it took was one word, awaited by the entire audience, to suddenly warm up relations between the Élysée and Corsica. “Autonomy”: Emmanuel Macron’s promise to the Corsican Assembly closes months of negotiations between the elected representatives of the Isle of Beauty and the government, and crowns a spectacular political turnaround by the President of the Republic.
This Thursday in Ajaccio, the Head of State therefore promised “the entry of Corsica into our Constitution”, thus specifying his intentions: “I am in favor of the specificities of the Corsican island community being recognized in the Constitution within its own article, that of a historical, linguistic and cultural island community.”
“Let us have the audacity to build autonomy in Corsica,” he said to the elected officials. But concretely, how could this constitutional reform granting autonomous status to Corsica see the light of day?
It will be easy for evil tongues to recall that proposals for reforms to the Constitution are piling up on Emmanuel Macron's desk: recourse to referendum, dose of proportionality in legislative elections, reduction in the number of parliamentarians, abolition of the Court of Justice of the Republic, constitutionalization of the right to abortion, institutional future of New Caledonia or even abolition of the non-cumulation of presidential mandates over time, etc.
Until now, the head of state has never succeeded in having the Constitution revised. Its 2018 reform was never completed due to lack of sufficient political support.
Regarding Corsica, Emmanuel Macron therefore intends to submit a text to Corsican elected officials, who will have six months to agree with the executive on the final version. This text will then be submitted to the vote of the Corsicans, in the same way that the independence of New Caledonia was proposed by referendum, on three occasions, only to the inhabitants of the Oceanian archipelagos.
Then there remains the most difficult part: once the text has received the assent of Corsican elected officials and the island's inhabitants, Emmanuel Macron must use article 89 of the Constitution to initiate the revision procedure. The President of the Republic hopes to launch this review at the beginning of 2024.
It will first be necessary for the text approved by the Corsicans to be voted on in identical terms by the two assemblies of Parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate. The Head of State can then have his proposed revision definitively adopted, either by consulting all French people by referendum (which he seems to have ruled out), or by convening the two assemblies jointly, in Congress, and obtaining a vote of at least three-fifths of parliamentarians.
However, if Emmanuel Macron submits a complete revision of the Constitution to parliamentarians, it will have little chance of succeeding given the play of political oppositions. But if he only submits to Congress a revision granting autonomous status to Corsica, the majority sufficient to vote for the text will be less difficult to gather, as long as the right (notably senatorial) supports the text. In Corsica, the right had broken with the nationalists but demanded a change in the Constitution to move the island towards greater autonomy, arguing for the need for an “adaptation” of national laws to the particular conditions of Corsican society. .