CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

1The resurgence of interest within contemporary political science for contextual approaches to behavior has led to a reassessment of the relationship between political practices and affiliation to territorial groups. Whether in Alan S. Zuckermann’s invitation to rehabilitate the foundational works of US electoral sociology by taking account of the position of individuals in the social circles within which their daily life unfolds, [1] in the proliferation of ethnographic studies, particularly in France, that have demonstrated the importance of social bonds and everyday interactions in the formation and maintenance of partisan loyalties [2] or in the mechanisms of voter mobilization and motivation, [3] the gaze has turned toward local political scenes and, accordingly, toward the diversity of meanings which practices such as electoral participation, activist engagement, and the voicing of political judgments can take on.

2The objective of this article is, firstly, to contribute to these discussions on the rooting of politics in the local – and in particular, the ways in which voting can take on significance as a marker of political autochthony – by examining the case of what, in Corsica, is commonly called the vote au village – that is, votes cast in the commune from which a voter’s family originated, but which is no longer their main place of residence. [4]

3As Lucie Bargel has shown, this type of vote is far from being specific to Corsica (we find it in other areas of France, particularly the mountainous zones), and, alongside other practices such as intermittent residency, social links with friends and family, leisure activities, etc., it helps to maintain a rootedness in one’s place of origin, acting as an expression of belonging. [5] Although it is no longer the space within which one lives and works, this place remains a potential context for identification and subjective affirmation, concurrent, complementary, alternative, or supplementary to other spheres of social life which are principally professional and residential. [6]

4This article thus proposes to examine the tensions and controversies occasioned by non-resident voting, either because of the manipulation and fraud with which it is frequently associated, or because it responds to domestic logics removed from the civic norm [7] – the dividing line between these two causes being somewhat blurry, since fraudulent practices very often take root in personal bonds based on exchange and loyalty. As demonstrated by parliamentary debates on the question of the raising of moral standards in Corsican elections, the denunciation of non-resident voting in the name of probity and democratic equity has led many politicians – and also numerous voters – to formulate, in return, an alternative conception of the meaning of voting, of the exercising of the voter’s vocation, and of the practice of citizenship – one based on belonging and the right to consider this as an important factor. In doing so, they advocate ways of appropriating political mechanisms that are based on their own affective and moral categories, and accordingly, develop their own reasons for taking part in them.

The vote au village

5The rising number of Corsicans who vote in villages in the interior of the island where they do not live permanently has been a regular feature in Corsican political history since the onset of the massive emigration away from the island at the end of the nineteenth century, and continues to this day. A move to mainland France, to French colonies, or to coastal Corsican villages has generally gone hand-in-hand with the maintenance of links to one’s home commune, registration on the electoral roll of that commune, and casting one’s vote there.

6Dating from the first decades of the Third Republic, numerous testimonies describe this phenomenon – often deploring its malign effects on the “public spirit” and the illicit practices with which it is associated. Following the 1881 legislative elections, for example, the Republican mayor of Bastia, Auguste Stretti, indignantly reported to the Chamber of Deputies on the practices of the shipping company Valéry, which had guaranteed the free passage to Corsica of 185 “sailors living in Marseille” (and who apparently also voted there) so that they could bring their votes for the Bonapartist party to the island. Such “landings” of mainland voters are commonplace: they arrive at the voting offices of their commune, sometimes in a procession with great commotion, at the expense of whichever candidate they support. Corsican groups and societies overseas happily participate in this electoral mobilization, calling their members and sympathizers to “vote en masse” for this or that candidate, organizing public meetings and “visits” for their favored candidate in their adopted homeland, and taking care of the logistics for voters’ travel to Corsica on voting day. [8] Many inhabitants of Ajaccio or Bastia, which from the second half of the nineteenth century attracted a growing proportion of the island population, still return regularly to their village to vote.

7Georges Clemenceau, author of a 1908 report to the President of the Republic on the Corsican situation, denounced the “numerous Corsicans [who] emigrate to the mainland, either in state employment or in the army, but [who], when they return to their country, once again become caught up in the old habits and passions”, some encouraged to do so by “the pride in being party leader”, others by joining “a ‘clientele’, that mass of voters who have only vague political notions and vote not for a program or an idea, but for the man from whom they receive and to whom they furnish personal services”. [9] In the same accusatory vein, and at almost the same moment, the journalist Pierre Piobb, in a work that is highly critical of the island’s Republican left, laments the attitude of “expatriates” who, after an “honest hard-working” life outside of Corsica, once they return to their village for their vacations or to retire, are “poisoned” anew by a “political atmosphere” dominated by clientelism, predation, and violence. [10] Three decades later, in 1941, the prefect of Corsica regrets that, in a département comprising 300,000 inhabitants, but with more than 500,000 registered voters (numbers that are wildly exaggerated), candidates spend “considerable sums” on travel for supporters “with permanent posts far from the island, and who only come back to vote”, at the risk of sowing corruption: “trafficking, commodities, shameless nepotism…”. [11] Beyond their polemical charge, these testimonies indicate clearly that the geographical distance created by the experience of migration or rural exodus does not necessarily break the bond with the community of origin. Remaining on the electoral list and voting accordingly is one manifestation among others of the persistence of this bond.

8The phenomenon is yet more marked in the contemporary era. In many villages in the interior of France registered voters exceed inhabitants of voting age, sometimes by a quite significant proportion. Limiting ourselves to the département de Haute-Corse, and examining the figures by canton, below we see how the relation between the number registered to vote and the total number of inhabitants aged over 18 stood during 2010–2011. [12]

Table 1

Number of voters registered on electoral roll and inhabitants of voting age in the cantons of the département de Haute-Corse (2010–2011)

CantonInhabitants in 2011Inhabitants of 18 years and over in 2011Registered voters in 2010Inhabitants/registered voters, 18 years and over
Bastia and Furiani (6 cantons)48,3448,95323,38960%
Conca d’Oro4,9464,1204,108100%
Fiumalto d’Ampugnani3,2962,7513,390123%
Ile Rousse7,4265,9884,98483%
Département Total168,640137,575116,00984%

Number of voters registered on electoral roll and inhabitants of voting age in the cantons of the département de Haute-Corse (2010–2011)

Figure 1

figure im1

Figure 1

Cantons of Haute-Corse
Source: “Votre canton”, website of the Conseil général de Haute-Corse, <>, consulted May 2013

9Although the average ratio for the département is not at all atypical (in 2011 the national average for France was 85%), there is a notable diversity across the territory. It is in rural cantons in the interior of the island that non-resident voters are more numerous (for instance, they constitute between a quarter and a third of registered voters in the mountain regions that surround Corte); whereas in Bastia and the neighboring urbanized zones (Furiani, Borgo, San Martino di Lota), and to a lesser degree in small towns such as Calvi and Île-Rousse and certain coastal cantons (Moïta-Verde, Vescovato) that have seen more recent demographic development, the number of voting-age inhabitants surpasses, often significantly, that of registered voters, [13] in part because a number of these inhabitants continue to vote in their village of origin. On the scale of the commune this distribution is confirmed yet again: in mountain villages that have seen their population drop drastically since the beginning of the twentieth century as a result of emigration and rural exodus, it is not rare for the number of registered voters to be one and a half times the number of voting-age inhabitants; inversely, this number constitutes three-quarters of individuals aged over 18 in the urban area of Bastia (which accounts for around 40% of the département’s population) as well as in most of the coastal communes, where the large majority of employment and economic activity is now concentrated. [14]

10These trends have exerted, and continue to exert, a strong influence on the electoral balance of Corsica. Although it is difficult to gauge the extent of this influence with any precision, it manifestly plays out in favor of the incumbent parties. On one hand, unlike their competitors, the latter can use certain of their prerogatives (privileged access to information on electoral lists or fiscal and property registers) to take advantage of licit and illicit mechanisms for the mobilization of voters who wish to vote from a distance (this will be examined in more detail below). On the other hand, within the island’s political space, this type of voting means that villages from the interior are politically overrepresented in relation to their demographic weight, thus contributing to a reinforcement of political groups whose local base relies chiefly on the networks of alliance between the mayors of small rural communes, dubbed “clans” by their adversaries. Spatial analyses of the Corsican vote show clearly that these mayors play an essential role as relays in orienting voting behavior toward the leaders of the main local parties in legislative and regional elections. [15] Thus the radical left movement in Haute-Corse has strongly suffered from the revision of electoral registers that accompanied the 1991 Joxe law’s establishment of a new institutional status for Corsica. Although this was not the only cause, [16] the transfer at that time of almost 30% of registered voters from rural zones to urban zones, along with the drastic reduction of proxy votes, which fell from 16% of voters (22,700 votes) in the second round of the 1989 municipal elections to 8% (10,500 votes) in the regional ballot of March 1992, certainly contributed to the electoral weakening of the party, which, in the cantonal elections of March 1992, lost the presidency of the general council, a seat which François Giacobbi, leader of the island radicals, had held since 1975. [17]

11We can therefore understand why, in denunciations of distance voting, it has often been associated with the “clannish” political system by its critics – first and foremost nationalist militants, but also elected representatives within the traditional parties who favor “modernization” – and why the call to limit distance voting has been an issue in campaigns for the raising of moral standards in local public life, in the name of the fight against fraud and, more generally, the emancipation of voters from traditional political dependencies founded on patronage and personal loyalties.

An affectionate emigration

12The importance of non-residents’ vote au village must be understood in relation to the particular form that migration has taken in Corsica, which has been aptly described as “affectionate migration”. [18] The massive exodus to mainland cities (Marseille and the Parisian region in particular) and to the colonies began at the end of the nineteenth century, and was particularly marked during the interwar years and up until the mid-1970s, with an annual average of four to five thousand people leaving the island between 1920 and 1954, and then around three thousand in the 1960s (when the migratory balance became positive, notably because of the arrival in Corsica of repatriated Algerians) and 1970s. [19] Throughout this entire period, a large number of migrants remained in close contact with their village of origin, to which they returned regularly for vacations, and where it was common practice for them to move as soon as they retired, if not earlier – particularly for military personnel up until the 1950s, at the end of the ten-year commitment that earned them the right to a military pension. [20] Most of them retained stable sentimental links to their village, maintaining relations with members of their family who had stayed there, to whom they frequently lent material aid by sending them a proportion of their earnings, and by supporting relatives’ plans for emigration (with accommodation, help in finding work, etc.).

13Many of them had properties in their village as well as the use of at least a part of the family house. In the colonies and mainland cities, local friends, but also social networks bringing together those from the same village or the same canton, reactivated the bonds of solidarity and proximity between “compatriots”, as well as their feeling of common identity. [21] While not necessarily excluding sometimes significant investments in their new home (social mobility via employment, new social and cultural practices, new social circles, etc.), the experience of migration leaves intact the emigrant’s bonds to their community of origin, which remains a reference point for them, a possible space to return to (temporarily or definitively), and an essential dimension of their identity. [22]

14In the Marseilles neighborhood of Panier, for example, during the interwar years and up until the 1950s, Corsican migrants’ social networks of proximity and solidarity were for a large part modeled on those of the island communes. In them, migrants’ bonds with their village of origin were confirmed and consolidated, all the more so in that the geographical proximity of Marseilles facilitated regular returns to the “old country”, exchanges and contact with “compatriots” were continual, and the activities of multiple campanilist associations (mutual aid, leisure activities, festivals) strengthened the feeling of belonging to the petite patrie. [23] Visits to the village also punctuated the lives of Corsicans in the French colonies – every year for those living in Algeria and Morocco, every two or three years for those in more distant territories. Such visits enabled them to reaffirm – through innumerable visits to parents and friends, through participation in village social activities, but also through ritual demonstrations of a folklore-based patriotism – a local belonging that had been rendered more uncertain by their migration. [24]

15To remain registered as a voter in the village, and to vote there whenever possible, is therefore the manifestation of an affection for the space of the village, and the expression of an identitarian belonging which endures in spite of distance. It is often also a way to respond to a service rendered by an elected representative and, more generally, to cement links of political loyalty nourished by a clientelist reciprocity. [25] In a region hit at the end of the nineteenth century by a grave agricultural crisis that destroyed the traditional equilibriums of rural society, and which has since remained largely unindustrialized, obtaining a post in the colonial administration, [26] in public office, or in state enterprises on the mainland is an essential means of social mobility. [27] Support in the process of migration (obtaining employment, recommendations to authorities and associations) as well as help given by migrants already abroad (advancement of career, transfers, etc.) provide potential for clientilist reciprocation, something that elected representatives make good use of when recommending their clients to the ministries concerned, supporting their requests for promotion or transfer, and even explicitly marketing posts in return for political support. [28]

16Maintaining an attachment to the familial village by those who no longer live there, or who only live there for part of the year or for a certain period of their lives, is still a very significant phenomenon in Corsica. According to Insee, during the 1990s around a quarter of French tourists arriving on the island declared that they had family there. The large number of retirees in the rural communes indicates that the latter frequently become the place of permanent or long-term habitation for persons from the island who have continued to visit on an occasional basis during their active life. [29] At the end of the 1970s, half of the inhabitants of Ajaccio and Bastia possessed at least one secondary residence in Corsica – that is to say, in almost every case, a family house in the village (sometimes shared with their relatives). Of these, 40% declared that they went there regularly, 22% irregularly during weekends; almost three quarters said that they lived there temporarily during vacations, most for longer than five days. [30] More generally, the very high rate of secondary residences in Corsica indicates that many islanders own a place to live in their village of origin, which they are able to use as a privileged place of leisure, social relations, and even some professional activities, while also being able to justify their right to vote there.

17Vacation properties or properties bought by persons without family ties in the territory cannot explain this very high rate, which is exceptional in relation to the rest of France, even that of regions such as Basse-Normandie or Provence-Côte-d’Azur which contain a large number of secondary homes – even less so in the cantons in the interior of the island, which offer little to attract tourists, but where second homes can nonetheless account for more than half of village residences.

18To participate in the political life of one’s commune of origin, in such cases, is a way of claiming and expressing one’s integration into a territory often seen as, and experienced as, a communitarian space, or at the very least as a space of belonging and social connection. The wave of protest that followed the decision to revise the electoral lists upon the passing of the 1991 “Joxe statute”, which entailed the disqualification of many non-resident voters, brought to light the strong identitarian investment that accompanies the vote au village, even for those who do not live there. One female voter from the villages, who lives and works in Paris and was disqualified from voting following the revision, expressed her discontent as follows:

Table 2

Number of secondary residences in Corsica as a percentage of the total number of residences

Corsica Region35.7%
Haute Corse34.5%
of which: Bastia1.2%
Canton of Borgo17.5%
Canton of Calenzana39.9%
Canton of Niolu-Omessa53.0%
Canton of Ghisoni52.6%
Canton of Bustanico54.1%
Corse du Sud37.1%
Of which: Ajaccio9.1%
France as a whole9.5%
PACA Region17.3%
Basse-Normandie Region15.3%

Number of secondary residences in Corsica as a percentage of the total number of residences

(Insee census)


“For me, to vote in Paris, I couldn’t care less…. I don’t even know who the mayor of my arrondissement is and I don’t want to know. Here, I know who I’m voting for, all of my family is here; I have so many friends…. When I vote, I know what it means, I vote for someone I have always known, and whom I can see when I want…. I have a house here; this is where my roots are. And I don’t see why Joxe would stop me voting in the village….”
(Interview, 23 June 1991)

20The vote au village is also a way of reaffirming one’s inclusion in localized networks around which are constructed common partisan identities and “obligatory affiliations” [31] to a local political group (the “party”), and which indeed consolidate family and social ties as much as the exchanges of services and mutual aid arrangements among clients of the same elected representative or political group. This can lead to paradoxical situations where returning to the village implies a turnaround in political commitment owing to the weight of local obligations and family political affiliations, as illustrated by the following interview with a senior manager in a Parisian suburban commune, sympathetic to the Communist Party, originally from a village in the interior of the island which he continues to frequent during his holidays and in which his retired parents live:


“We’re originally from V. (a commune in the Corte region). My brothers and I go there almost every vacation with our families; and my parents went back there a few years ago for their retirement. They had left Corsica just after the war and were living in C., a suburb of Paris. My father had found a job there with help from Louis T., who was already mayor of C. at the time, and who later became a senator. He was from the same village as my father, and had emigrated before the war and become a big shot in the Communist Party [My father] had worked for a long time in repair shops in the city and ended up as a low-level manager […]. He was faithful to Louis T., so he was faithful to the Communist Party; he campaigned for the party all the time he was living in C.; most of his buddies were also in the party…. But that doesn’t stop them, now [since they moved to the village of V. when they retired] from voting without any compunction for Rocca-Serra [at the time deputy of the RPR] or from supporting the mayor [also a member of the RPR]. It must be said that we are from a gavinist family [from the name of an old dynasty of rightwing notables from the island] and that the current mayor’s father was a great friend of my grandfather…. Well, that’s politics in Corsica for you: things that seem a little bizarre to someone who doesn’t know what’s going on, but it’s all linked to the village, to family, to friends […]. Even I myself, I’ve been registered in V. for some years, and, when I vote there, I vote for the right….”
(Interview, 23 August 1992)

Mechanisms of electoral control

22The situation described above has its effects on the mechanisms that elected representatives and their teams can make use of in order to control elections, on the pragmatic tactics and maneuvers they use to participate effectively in the political contest. [32]

Mobilization of non-residents

23Firstly, when voting day comes, they can mobilize electors who live outside of the commune. Financial incentives play a determining role in this domain. Candidates often provide the price of travel, but also various other costs occasioned by the trip. Thus fifty “sailors and workers employed in Marseilles by the shipping company Valéry” are said to have “landed” in Bastia on the eve of the 1876 legislative elections, “arriv[ing] in Brando with great commotion” to cast their votes. “The company paid for their travel, food, and drink.” [33] In the aforementioned report where he describes the arrival en masse of mainland and colonial voters for the elections of the last years of the Third Republic, the prefect of Corsica continues his account as follows:

“The return [of these voters] is not always spontaneous. Usually each of the candidates brings back their supporters and friends from the mainland. The cost of travel is of course borne by the candidates in the elections, and we can estimate at one thousand to one thousand two hundred francs the price for each extra voter. The dangers of this custom are obvious, and most grave. Firstly, with such sums involved, the elections become much harsher, since the candidates have sometimes spent considerable amounts to ensure their success […]. Secondly, the elections are rigged, since the richest candidate can call to his aid the largest number of non-resident voters […]. And finally, the elected candidate, who has spent significant resources to achieve this result, will obviously have a keen desire to recoup the expenses he has incurred […].” [34]
Many telegrams intercepted by the services of the prefecture of Corsica at the time of the 1929 municipal elections in the commune of Vivario – a mountain village close to Corte which at the time counted around a thousand inhabitants – attest to similar practices. [35] One such telegram, sent to a recipient in Paris by a village inhabitant, reads as follows:

figure im2


“Sending you fifteen thousand to assure departure of voters I have designated and recruited through you. Round them up and make sure they leave as soon as possible on Sunday to arrive next Monday, the remainder by the next mail. Give each of them a permit and five hundred and if there are further claims check them with me. Keep me up to date and, if the number of voters increases, I will send you what is necessary. See previous telegrams for soldiers on leave, decide and send as many people as possible and keep me up to date via telegram. Best Wishes, Tellinchi.”

25As the document describes in scarcely veiled terms, such practices could be accompanied by the buying of votes (the “further claims” mentioned by the author of the telegram, who confirms that he is ready to satisfy them). But Corsicans abroad also exert their political influence by appealing to the duties of familial solidarity, as testified by two other telegrams sent by a certain Paul Filippi, resident in Paris, to his compatriots on the occasion of the same municipal elections: “Please do vote and make the entire list vote for the outgoing mayor. Marchesini is my mortal enemy. With affection”, he exhorts in the first; in the second he repeats his voting instructions, adding: “Warn parents and friends that I consider it a personal insult to vote for Marchesini. With affection.”

figure im3

26Whereas here influence is exerted on villager voters from an “émigré” who impresses upon his “parents and friends” the anger and humiliation (“a personal insult”) that the election of his “mortal enemy” would cause him, it can also take the inverse path, when local candidates or their representatives take action to mobilize external voters. In doing so they sometimes take the electoral campaign beyond the borders of Corsica, using as relays the campanilist associations, [36] groups, and voter committees that proliferated from the 1880s in Toulon, Marseilles, and Paris, and then, principally during the interwar years, in many colonial towns. [37]

27They also use informal communications networks (friends and parents, circles of acquaintances) to reinvigorate the political loyalty of their supporters or to induce other voters to lend them support. The practice is still current today, as attested to by this report from the 2014 municipal elections in a commune in the center of the island:


“They [the outgoing municipal team] were a bit more worried than usual… They were putting forward a new candidate, a young man who some didn’t know so well. So, they went around the houses canvassing for votes – in the villages of course, and in Bastia, just like we did [electoral visits to the homes of certain voters are a normal practice], and on the mainland. I know that they sent M. to Toulon and to Marseille. He stayed there a few days; he told his friends that they had to come, and he went to find proxies. L. did the same in Paris and in Champigny [where a number of people originally from the commune live] […]. To my knowledge, this was all done without any irregularities. They certainly paid for some to travel, but no more…”
(Interview, inhabitant of a village in the Corte region, retired official of the territorial service in Corsica, member of the opposition to the incumbents in the 2014 municipal elections, 4 August 2014.)

29Moreover, some external voters have no need to be solicited in this way. For them, the elections are an occasion not to be missed, an opportunity to go back to the village outside of the periods when they usually live there (school vacations, the long period between summer and the beginning of winter for retirees), and a demonstration of their attachment to their commune of origin and of their loyalty toward candidates to whom they themselves and, more generally, their relatives, are close; and even, quite simply, an opportunity for a short break.

Electoral lists and distance voting

30The registration of a large number of non-residents on electoral lists is also a significant factor in electoral frauds. I have already mentioned some of these, in particular the buying of votes associated with the movement of voters; double registration on the electoral lists of different communes are also frequently attested to in such cases. Others have been seen in fraudulent schemes in Corsica, and continue to the present day: firstly, postal voting, and then, to a lesser degree, proxy voting.

31Postal voting, established in 1946 and in force up to 1975, when it was repealed by law, principally because of the misappropriations it enabled, gave new magnitude to electoral fraud in Corsica. [38] For example, in the 1967 legislative elections, 26,000 postal votes were registered – that is, 14% of those registered to vote, and more than a quarter of the votes received. The ballot in the second-largest district of the département (Bastia) was annulled the following year by the Constitutional Council, on the grounds that, apart from the “disappearance of the enclosure list and score sheets” in many polling stations and “the theft of a ballot box […] while voting procedures were in progress” in one of its offices (the box was happily “recovered intact and sealed”), the postal vote had been massive and was incongruent with the exceptional status the law envisioned for the practice, and that it had involved mostly fictional voters (“numerous postal votes did not come from voters who had requested to use this mode of voting”). [39] The proportion of postal votes grew to a disproportionate size (often more than half of the overall number of voters) in certain communes, particularly in the municipal elections, leading most observers to conclude that the great majority of these votes were irregular. Techniques for the manipulation of postal votes are simple, from the most innocuous (sending postal voting material to “friendly” voters, with the voting card made out in the name of the candidate and a paid return envelope attached) [40] to the highly fraudulent (filling out and sending of falsified ballot papers in the name of “phantom voters” who have not had any contact with the commune for a long time yet remain on the electoral list). [41]

32The institution of proxy voting has not prevented such fraud and manipulation, although it has made it more difficult to perpetrate. [42] To take just one recent example, calls for the annulling of the March 2014 municipal elections at Porto-Vecchio and Ajaccio were both based at least partly on accusations of irregularities linked to proxy voting. [43] At Porto-Vecchio, according to the lawyer for the defeated nationalist candidate in the second round of the ballot, the revision of the electoral lists had been conducted in an “irregular manner”: the municipal agent in charge of the operation, also a cousin of the outgoing mayor (who was to be the eventual victor in the ballot) had in the last trimester of 2013 alone registered 1500 new voters, 534 of whom were expats (for a total number of 9,600 registered persons). According to the same lawyer, “flight tickets were purchased for numerous voters domiciled on the mainland to come and vote”; and “pressure had been placed on voters and favors granted to some of them: hirings, distribution of gifts of food, allocation of social housing to electoral agents, odd jobs”. In Ajaccio, the counsel of the defeated outgoing mayor filed a motion for annulation in which he accuses his adversary of having “exerted serious violence and pressure” on certain voters, and of having profited from his role as president of the general council of Corse-du-Sud’s commission for social cohesion to distribute 850 emergency relief vouchers to voters. Finally, he charges him with “planned fraud” via the manipulation of the electoral list and the list of proxy voters, which rose from 1,780 to 2,380 voters between the two rounds of the election (an increase from 7.5% to 9%), at least a hundred of which were certainly falsified, “filled out by the same, unidentified hand”. The administrative tribunal of Bastia, which upheld the grievance of fraud in a proxy voting procedure and for this reason annulled the municipal ballot, specified that


“Many hundreds of proxy votes had been set up between the two rounds […]; some proxy votes were produced twice over […]; for almost a hundred voters having taken part in the vote, either the signature on the proxy form was manifestly different from that on the electoral list at the first round of the ballot or in previous ballots […], or the proxy votes were filed twice over and bore manifestly different signatures in each case […]; at least fifty proxy votes were written obviously in the same handwriting as that of other proxy votes.” [44]

34The control of electoral lists is crucial to the schemes described above. For the inflation of these lists by the presence of non-residents makes them more prone to manipulation by potential frauds (falsification of signatures of “phantom voters” in the registration lists, along with ballot box stuffing and the adding of voting cards after the count). Moreover, as has already been stated, the relative latitude left to the commune’s administrative commission to adjudicate on demands for the revision of the lists can allow the mayor – who generally exerts a strong influence over this commission – to favor his supporters at the expense of his adversaries, or to indulge in unfair maneuvers such as “voter transfers” from “safe” communes to those where the ballot is more keenly disputed.

The expression of sentiment

35The question of fraud far from exhausts the question of non-resident voting, however. The latter can certainly encourage electoral manipulation, but it cannot be put down solely to the maneuvers of the established political class, which have been repeatedly denounced by those political groups advocating modernization and the raising of moral standards in Corsican civic practices – the island’s Communist Party in the years following the Liberation, who accused the “clans” of maintaining the island’s economic underdevelopment so as to maintain their hegemony over exploited and subjected populations; and then the regionalist and nationalist movements that grew in stature throughout the 1970s by taking on “clannish” notables and the “base politics” (pulitichella) of fraud, clientelism, and immobilism of which they were both instigators and beneficiaries. [45] In defense of Corsican culture and identity, these movements added the critique of clannish and traditional politics to their programs and their discourse, often along with demands for the modification of the Electoral Code (prohibition of postal voting, for example, or the establishment of voting machines) and for the revision of electoral lists. From the end of the succeeding decade, the latter became one of their main platforms. Yet these critiques, and the implementation of the resulting reforms, have been met with protests and opposing demands which foreground the language of belonging and attachment to origins in order to claim the right to the vote au village.

36This kind of claim has a long pedigree; we see it at work, for example, in the 1929 municipal elections in the commune of Sarrola-Carcopino, near Ajaccio, where the revision of electoral lists in advance of the ballot aroused lively debate. Many “absentees” from the commune, disqualified from the lists, protested energetically, like this old retired adjutant of the colonial infantry, resident in Toulon:


“Are we bastards [underlined in red ink] or Lucchese [here meaning Italians in the broader sense]? I don’t think so […]. I demand to stay on the electoral list of the commune and to be struck off only at my own request. I still consider myself a child of Sarrola.”

38Other disqualified voters appeal to a “fidelity to [their village]”, to their affection for the place “where [they] were born and where [their family] lives” (a factor most prominent on the mainland), or to their “family ties” (a father and his son, an “official in Morocco”), to claim the right to vote once more in their commune of origin. [46]

39This same language of belonging was regularly employed by Corsican parliamentarians in defense of the vote of non-residents. On 22 November 1968, in a debate at the National Assembly on a proposed law that sought to modify the Electoral Code, Jean Bozzi, at the time the UDR deputy for Corsica, came forward to defend postal voting and to address the charge that it encouraged fraud:


“The reality, in fact, is different to what is generally believed. A number of my compatriots, because of the prevailing socio-economic conditions on the island, are obliged – and I am the first to regret it – to ‘expatriate themselves’. For very respectable sentimental reasons, founded on their highly developed sense of civic duty [laughter], they wish to participate in the elections in their commune of origin. This is why they practice postal voting more than previously was the case.” [47]

41On 4 December 1975, in a debate in the National Assembly on the reform of the Electoral Code which abolished postal voting and replaced it with proxy voting, Jean-Paul de Rocca-Serra, the UDR deputy for Corsica, defended the “numerous voters registered in the island parts of the Republic” and who, unable to “obtain employment in their region of origin”, had “up to this point used the postal vote as their way of exercising their right in the communes where they are voters and where they would like to stay voters, for incontestably legitimate reasons”. According to him, abolishing this type of vote would be tantamount to refusing them this right, leading to “a return of the tax-based voting system in a new, distorted form” and to a “de facto twofold discrimination between those citizens who can bear the expense of making a costly trip, and those who can’t; and above all between those candidates who are able to organize and finance the transporting of voters and those who do not have recourse to such means”. [48]

42In April 1991, at the time of the “Joxe statute”, which proposed a sweeping revision of the electoral lists so as to resist fraud and to restore the “confidence” of electors in their institutions, the opponents of this revision once more placed their emphasis on the argument of belonging, following the lead of Jean-Paul de Rocca-Serra:


“In fact, it is a question of distancing yet further from Corsica those of its children who no longer live there permanently, but retain a very strong attachment to their island […]. In the name of what principle are they to be refused the right to vote in their town or village of origin?” [49]

44Such arguments are not simply instrumental rationalizations manipulated by the island’s traditional elected representatives for the purpose of defending the political mechanisms favorable to them, whether to promote domestic registers of partisan loyalty or to conserve the advantages that control over electoral lists affords them. They also conform to conceptions of the role of elected representatives based on their proximity to their voters, and their ability to embody the group that they represent and to reveal its unity, even if it is an idealized, or even illusory unity. Such conceptions, which the Corsican elect share with a great many of their counterparts across the country as a whole, [50] induce them to foreground those of their activities that manifest the intensity of their personal ties to their voters, as well as those that testify to their ability to defend those voters’ claims of belonging.

45Such conceptions thus correspond to the expectations and practices of certain sections of the electorate, for whom the vote au village is the manifestation of an attachment to the territory constitutive of a part of their identity and their sociality. There is no other way to understand the rapid increase in the number of voters in Corsica following the drastic diminution brought about by the application of article 85 of the Joxe law, which obliged persons who had once been registered to request, and justify, their re-registration on the electoral lists of their commune. This measure had reduced by around a quarter the number of registered voters for the whole region, which went from almost 200,000 in 1991 (79% of the total population of the island) to 157,000 in 1992 (65% of that same population). [51] In the following years, a large number of disqualified voters requested and were granted their re-registration on the electoral lists. All that was required in order to do so was some transfers of property, permitting them to demonstrate that they were contributors to their commune of origin; or the benevolence of the administrative commissions responsible for the revision of the electoral lists, many of whom did not hesitate to act “in violation of the provisions of the Electoral Code” by registering persons with the status of “domicile of origin (a notion foreign to the provisions of the Electoral Code), without assuring themselves of the veracity of the evidence produced by the voters, or even by registering voters without any justification having been given”. [52] Thus, at the beginning of the 2000s, the number of voters registered in Corsica had returned to a level scarcely lower than that of 1991 before the revision of the electoral lists. [53]

Table 3

Change in the number of voters registered on the electoral lists in Corsica (1991–2014)

YearHaute-CorseCorse du SudAll of CorsicaTotal population of Corsica
1991 (before revision)110,42489,200199,624250,371

Change in the number of voters registered on the electoral lists in Corsica (1991–2014)

46Many of the re-registrations on the list may indeed have been the fruit of electoral manipulation on the part of certain elected representatives, or of various pressures exerted upon some inhabitants. But the great majority of them resulted from the desire to reaffirm a rootedness in the space of the village on the part of people who had been most displeased at their expulsion from the lists following the Joxe Law – all the more so as the measure had been perceived as a government concession to the nationalist groups who had long lobbied for it.

47* * *

48Distance voting in Corsica manifests the existence of sentiments of belonging to a territory when it is neither a permanent place of habitation nor the principal space for the exercise of social and professional activities. Those Corsicans abroad who vote in the commune from which some of their family originated foreground an identitarian language based on origins and on their sporadic involvement in village activities, especially during vacations or weekends, through practices of sociability and leisure, or on their affirmed wish to definitively or temporarily return. The situation of Corsica is therefore not dissimilar to those of diasporas and emigrant communities elsewhere, characterized by a “double presence” in both the space of origin and that of their principal residency, which gives rise to modes of identification “extra-territorialized” to an external national state. [54] Apart from the maintenance of community links through dense networks of associative or informal relations between compatriots, and apart from the “constitutive stories” shared in the form of a history and a folklore that serve as supports for collective identities and a common belonging, [55] the preservation of the bond with the place of origin can be voiced through expectations of a political order, in particular the demand to be allowed to exercise one’s civic and electoral rights. [56] This latter aspect has been the object of particular study in the case of Latin American communities living in the US, whose representative associations number among their principal demands the possibility (or facilitation) of distance voting in the name of the right of migrants to participate in the political life of the country they came from and to which they retain solid attachments, and to the economy to which they actively contribute through transnational commercial activities and through transfers of money to their families [57] – exemplary illustrations of the importance which the act of voting can take on as an instrument for the expression of attachment to the place of origin and the symbolic affirmation of an allogeneous belonging. [58]

49Such situations should encourage us to broaden the question of meaningful spaces of reference to the study of the effects of social context upon voting and, more generally, to the different ways in which individuals are politicized. As Lucie Bargel remarks, place of residence is an insufficient indicator to fully characterize these contexts – on one hand because individuals carry out their activities in multiple distinct social spheres, and on the other because they are liable to invest with varying intensity in one or the other of these social spheres. [59] The result is a diversity of networks of belonging and of activity to which one may refer in affirming a social identity, and within which localized processes of political influence and mechanisms of interest in voting are at work. [60]

50From this perspective, distance voting by Corsicans can be explained through the will to preserve the resources (notoriety, reputation, relational capital, social recognition) that come from belonging to a village space, but to which involvement in the habitual worlds of everyday and professional life do not give access – or not so easily. The signs of rootedness and the “capital of autochthony” [61] manifested and attested to by this type of voting can thus play a compensatory role in securing identity, and procuring sociability and access to social resources (business solidarity, mutual aid, exchanges of services, diversified social relations, positioning in networks of public patronage) that can be mobilized in the place of origin, but also in other spaces to which autochthonous bonds may be transposed (neighborhoods or communes to which migrants move, diasporic circles outside of Corsica, networks of influence in island towns or on the regional scale, etc.).

51The importance of the vote au village in Corsica is therefore derived from that of the identitarian, emotional, and practical investments that some inhabitants continue to make in their commune of origin, and whose persistence and intensity is explained by the preeminence of “continuity migration” in the history of the movements of island populations, as well as by the density and influence of the networks of links between Corsica and its outside. It is also the product of the active work of mobilization carried out by numerous elected representatives in the direction of Corsicans abroad. These elected officials deploy a knowhow that is remarkable in its effectiveness and sometimes in its complexity (techniques for the manipulation of votes, but also a fine-grained knowledge of the voters and familial groups in their district, maintenance of connections with “expatriate” networks) to win over the votes of a section of the diaspora. They willingly make themselves spokespeople for the aspirations of a part of their constituency by confirming the latters’ identity as villagers despite their distance, and thereby end up taking on the role of guardian and conserver of that identity. In Corsica, this work of voter mobilization and motivation carried out by elected representatives has been habitually denigrated because of the scale of the frauds it has provoked and, more generally, because of its role in the preservation of a traditional clannish and clientelist political system, embodied by a great time-honored elect and their affiliates who have long dominated the political life of the island – to the point where arguments in favor of distance voting find it difficult to be heard in so far as they appear to merely dissimulate the electoral interests of those who advance them. In other situations, however, such as those of countries which very swiftly introduced a “politics of attention” toward their expatriates, [62] or who today respond to the injunctions of international institutions to protect and extend the civic rights of migrants in the name of the promotion of democracy and equality for all citizens of the same political community, [63] the right of external populations to vote has on the contrary come to be considered as a legitimate demand, and a desirable objective for the exemplary exercise of political rights.


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    Alan S. Zuckerman, “Returning to the social logic of political behavior” in Alan S. Zuckermann (ed.), The Social Logic of Politics: Personal Networks as Contexts for Political Behavior (Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 2005), 3-20. For a presentation and detailed discussion of “environmental approaches” to voting, see Céline Braconnier, Une autre sociologie du vote. Les électeurs dans leurs contextes: bilan critique et perspectives (Paris: Université de Cergy-Pontoise/Lextenso Éditions, 2010).
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    Among the plentiful literature on the subject, see for example Emmanuel Bellanger and Julian Mischi (eds), Les territoires du communisme. Élus locaux, politiques publiques et sociabilités militantes (Paris: Armand Colin, 2013); Marie Cartier, Isabelle Coutant, Olivier Masclet, and Yasmine Siblot, La France des petits-moyens”. Enquête sur la banlieue pavillonnaire (Paris: La Découverte, 2008), chapter 6; Julian Mischi and Nicolas Renahy, “Pour une sociologie politique des mondes ruraux”, Politix, 83, 2008, 9-21 (introduction to special issue on “Mondes ruraux”). On the rebirth of political ethnography, particularly in the US, see Lauren Joseph, Matthew Mahler, and Javier Auyero (eds), New Perspectives in Political Ethnography (New York: Springer, 2007).
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    Cécile Braconnier, Jean-Yves Dormagen, and Daniella Rocha, “Quand les milieux populaires se rendent aux urnes: mobilisation électorale dans un quartier pauvre de Brasilia”, Revue française de science politique, 63(3-4), 2013, 487-518.
  • [4]
    My thanks to Lucie Bargel for having prompted me to tackle this question, which I had only broached incidentally in my previous work on Corsica, through our discussions on her current research into everyday nationalism in a border zone in the south of France, and on the occasion of the study day she co-organized with Baptiste Coulmont on “Les virtuoses du vote” (ERMES-CRESSPA/CSU, Paris, 14 November 2014) where the initial version of this article was presented. The article takes another look at data from a previous study on political clientelism in Corsica (Jean-Louis Briquet, La tradition en mouvement. Clientélisme et politique en Corse [Paris: Belin, 1997]) with the addition of new documents (demographic statistics, parliamentary debates on the raising of moral standards in public life in Corsica, electoral disputes) and interviews conducted during summer 2014 in the communes of a canton in central Corsica in order to collect testimonies on the municipal elections of March of the same year, and more particularly on the mechanisms whereby voters are mobilized in the rural milieu.
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    Lucie Bargel, “Les ‘originaires’ en politique: migration, attachement local et mobilisations électorales des montagnards”, Politix, 113, 2016, 171-99.
  • [6]
    Here these registers of identification are separate, in contrast to situations wherein professional belonging underlies local belonging: for example, those of the workers’ milieus studied by Jean-Noël Retière (Identités ouvrières. Histoire sociale d’un fief ouvrier en Bretagne, 1909-1990 [Paris: L’Harmattan, 1994]) and Nicolas Renahy (Les gars du coin. Enquête sur une jeunesse rurale [Paris: La Découverte, 2005]). In the latter case, the economic crisis and the deterioration of the labor market did however lead to the “dissociation of professional and residential spheres” and to the predominance of “principles of local belonging” founded less on work than on one’s position within localized “relational networks” (Renahy, Les gars du coin, 253-5).
  • [7]
    On the difference between the “domestic” world (characterized by the importance of personal relations, bonds of fidelity, and relations of reciprocal obligation) and the “civic” world (characterized by the pre-eminence of the collective good, regulation by law, and the depersonalization of social bonds), see Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot, De la justification. Les économies de la grandeur (Paris: Gallimard, 1991), in particular 206-22 and 231-41 [Luc Boltanksi and Laurent Thévenot, On Justification: Economies of Worth, trans. Catherine Porter [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006]).
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    Jean-Paul Pellegrinetti, “Migrations et pratiques politiques: les Corses de 1870 à 1914”, Parlement(s). Revue d’histoire politique, 7, 2011, 115-29.
  • [9]
    Journal officiel de la République française (JO), 262, 26 September 1908. The report is reproduced in La Corse aux rapports (Ajaccio: DCL Éditions, 1999), 243-78 (248-50).
  • [10]
    Pierre Piobb, La Corse d’aujourd’hui. Ses moeurs, ses ressources, sa détresse (Paris: Société générale d’édition, 1909), cited in La Corse aux rapports, 281-405 (325).
  • [11]
    Report of the prefect of Corsica to the minister of the interior, “Situation politique et administrative du département de la Corse”, March 1941, Archives nationales (AN), F/1cIII/1147.
  • [12]
    Sources: 2011 Insee census, ministry of the interior for number of registered voters.
  • [13]
    The phenomenon was far more marked before the adoption of the “Joxe Law”, enacted in 1991, which, apart from significant institutional changes, led to the revision of the electoral lists of all Corsican communes. According to Insee (Économie corse, 7, January-February 1978), in 1977 the relation between the number of registered voters and the population of voting age in Corsica was 1.34. It was in the two predominantly rural districts that this relation was highest (1.77 in Corte-Calvi, 1.5 in Sartène) as against 1.2 and 1.5 in the districts of Ajaccio and Bastia respectively.
  • [14]
    As an example, the relation between the number of registered voters and the number of inhabitants of voting age in the same canton of Ghisoni, in the southwest of the Haute-Corse département, is 2.4 for the mountain commune that gives its name to the canton (225 inhabitants) and 0.72 for that of Ghisonaccia (3800 inhabitants), situated on the border, and which, since the 1970s, has become the territory’s main concentration of population and economic activity.
  • [15]
    Luc Merchez, “Les logiques spatiales du vote corse lors des scrutins régionaux et européens 2003-2005, héritage et renouvellement des comportements électoraux”, L’Espace politique, 3, 2007, <>.
  • [16]
    From the 1980s, other factors contributed to the weakening of the locally dominant partisan groups – in particular the political emergence and electoral success of nationalist movements, as well as institutional innovations (the increasing autonomy of regional assembly and regional agencies, whose resources and scope of action were broadened). The proliferation of spaces of power and the diversification of access channels to public resources led to a greater fragmentation of the island’s political networks, as demonstrated by André Farzi, “Une nouvelle ère politique en Corse: 1949-2013”, L’informateur corse, special issue, January 2014, 11-15. More generally, on the transformation of political practices induced by the adaptations of political actors to institutionalized regional autonomy, see the same author’s La recomposition territoriale des pouvoirs. Les régions insulaires de la Méditerranée occidentale (Ajaccio: Albiana, 2009).
  • [17]
    Claude Olivesi and Jean-Paul Pastorel, “Corse 1992: l’année de la mise en place du statut Joxe”, Annuaire des collectivités locales, 13, 1993, 51-64.
  • [18]
    See Isac Chiva, “Causes sociologiques du sous-développement régional: l’exemple corse”, Cahiers internationaux de sociologie, 24, 1958, 141-7.
  • [19]
    Pierre Simi, Précis de géographie physique, humaine, économique et régionale de la Corse (Bastia: Société des sciences historiques et naturelles de la Corse, 1981), 90ff.
  • [20]
    Between 1920 and 1939, in the rural cantons in the interior of the island, between around a quarter to a third of a generational cohort entered the army for ten years or more (François Casta, “Engagés volontaires dans l’armée” in Francis Pomponi (ed.), Le Mémorial des Corses, vol. 6: Les Corses à l’extérieur [Ajaccio: C. Gleizal Éditeur, 1982], 444-9).
  • [21]
    This tendency is far from being exclusive to Corsican migrants. The maintenance of bonds with the community of origin and of a strong feeling of belonging to that community is found, for example, among Lucchese emigrants outside of Italy, as discussed by Caroline Douki, “Lucquois au travail ou émigrés italiens? Les identités à l’épreuve de la mobilité transnationale, 1850-1914”, Le Mouvement social, 188, 1999, 17-41.
  • [22]
    Especially for first generation migrants, this type of migration thus comes close to what Paul-André Rosenthal describes as “continuity migration [migration de maintien]”, in which “the migrant continues to relate himself to the place from which he came, as far as his major expectations are concerned” (Paul-André Rosental, “Maintien/rupture: un nouveau couple pour l’analyse des migrations”, Annales. Économies, Sociétés, Civilisations, 45[6], 1990, 1403-31 (1407).
  • [23]
    Marie-Françoise Attard-Maraninchi, Le Panier. Village corse à Marseille (Paris: Autrement, 1997).
  • [24]
    Vanina Profizi, “De l’île à l’Empire. Colonisation et construction de l’identité nationale: les Corses, la nation et l’Empire colonial français (XIXe-XXe siècles)”, doctoral thesis in history, Paris, EHESS, 2011, 72ff.
  • [25]
    Jean-Louis Briquet, La tradition en mouvement, particularly chapters 1 to 3.
  • [26]
    Pierre Angeli (“La Corse et les Corses dans la colonisation”, dissertation, École nationale de la France d’outremer, 1942, 86-87) estimates at 20% the number of colonial officials originally from Corsica in 1940, whereas the region, with 280,000 inhabitants, made up only 1% of the French population. The figure must be treated carefully, but local data (Algeria, Tunisia, Indochina) confirm the over-representation of Corsicans in the colonial administration and more generally in the French population of the colonies (see Profizi, “De l’île à l’Empire”, 52-60).
  • [27]
    Particularly in Marseille, where in 1911 almost 7000 families originally from Corsica lived – that is, around 25,000 persons (Francis Pomponi, “Marseille, ‘première ville corse’” in Le Mémorial des Corses, 450-7), but also in the Mediterranean départements and in the Parisian region.
  • [28]
    The analysis of files of requests for employment sent to the minister of the colonies by the prefectoral services of Corsica as well as various recommendations on the part of elected officials of this same ministry offer enlightening examples (Profizi, “De l’île à l’Empire”, 134ff).
  • [29]
    With an average of 800 persons per year, the return of retirees to Corsica in 2006 constituted 40% of the migratory balance in Corsica, coming mostly from the Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur and Île-de-France regions (Insee Corse, “La Corse attire beaucoup les retraités mais aussi les actifs”, Quant’île, 2, January 2008).
  • [30]
    “Le village des Ajacciens et des Bastiais”, Économie corse, 17, 1979.
  • [31]
    See the work of Gérard Lenclud, for example “S’attacher: le régime traditionnel de la protection en Corse”, Terrains, 21, 1993, 81-96, and “Des idées et des hommes: patronage électoral et culture politique en Corse”, Revue française de science politique, 38(5), 1988, 770-82.
  • [32]
    The “pragmatic rules […] advise the tactics and maneuvers that will probably be the most effective” so as to bring them into the political struggle, and which are “neutral” from a moral point of view (Frederick G. Bailey, Les règles du jeu politique (Paris: PUF, 1971), p.18 [Strategems and Spoils: A Social Anthropology of Politics [Oxford: Blackwell, 1969]).
  • [33]
    Pellegrinetti, “Migrations et pratiques politiques”. Pellegrinetti cites a statement by a voter in Brando complaining to the Chamber of Deputies of the malfeasances committed in his commune during the legislative ballot of 1876 (Archives Nationales, C/3461).
  • [34]
    Report by the prefect of Corsica to the minister of the interior, March 1941.
  • [35]
    Archives Nationales, F/7/1980, prefects’ report on the general situation in Corsica (1919-1929).
  • [36]
    Marie-Françoise Attard-Maraninchi, “Un réflexe identitaire: les associations campanilistes corses”, Mélanges de l’École française de Rome, Italie et Méditerrannée, 104 (2), 1992, 899-918.
  • [37]
    Pellegrinetti, “Migrations et pratiques politiques”; Profizi, “De l’île à l’Empire”.
  • [38]
    Ange Rovere and Jean-Paul Pellegrinetti, La Corse et la République. La vie politique de la fin du Second Empire au début du xxie siècle (Paris: Seuil, 2004), in particular 426-33.
  • [39]
    Constitutional Council, décision no 67-435 of January 24, 1968, Archives Nationales Corsica (2nd circ.), JO, January 28, 1968, 1029.
  • [40]
    “Un cas flagrant de fraude électorale”, Le Monde, 2 October 1967.
  • [41]
    For examples, see Antoine Sanguinetti, “Les clans, la fraude, la violence en Corse”, Les Temps modernes, 423, 1981, 599-618.
  • [42]
    Proxy voting is more strictly regulated than postal voting: requirement for an appointed voter in the commune; establishment of the proxy in the presence of the appointee in a police station, a gendarmerie or a district court; limitation to only one proxy vote per appointee. On this type of vote, see Jean-Claude Masclet, “Procuration (vote par)” in Pascal Perrineau and Dominique Reynié (eds), Dictionnaire du vote (Paris: PUF, 2001), 761; Arthur Charpentier, Baptiste Coulmont, and Joël Gombin, “Un homme, deux voix: le vote par procuration”, La vie des idées, 11 February 2014.
  • [43]
    Nicole Mari, “Élections municipales: demandes d’annulation confirmées pour Ajaccio et validation pour Porto-Vecchio”, Corse Net Info, 16 October 2014. The administrative tribunal of Bastia rejected the request concerning Porto-Vecchio but upheld that concerning Ajaccio, the results of whose municipal election were annulled.
  • [44]
    Administrative Tribunal of Bastia, 1st Chamber, hearing of 16 October 2014, judgment 14-316.
  • [45]
    On the criticism of the “clan” and the advocacy of the raising of moral standards in public life, see on the nationalist movement Xavier Crettiez, La question corse (Brussels: Complexe, 1999), 62-9; Briquet, La tradition en mouvement, 237-42 on the Communist Party and 261-63 on nationalism.
  • [46]
    Charlie Galibert, “La ‘bataille de la municipalité’, une élection en 1929: contribution à une anthropologie politique de la Corse”, Socio-anthropologie, 13, 2003, <>.
  • [47]
    JO, parliamentary debates, Assemblée nationale, 22 November 1968, 4777.
  • [48]
    JO, parliamentary debates, Assemblée nationale, 2nd session of 5 December 1975, 9377. Rocca-Serra concludes by calling for an “appropriate broadening of proxy voting”.
  • [49]
    JO, parliamentary debates, Assemblée nationale, 2nd session of 12 April 1991, 1147-8.
  • [50]
    On the valorization of proximity and local belonging in discussions of the role of politicians in France, see in particular Rémy Lefebvre, “La proximité à distance: typologie des interactions élus-citoyens” in Christian Le Bart and Rémy Lefebvre (eds), La proximité en politique. Usages, rhétoriques, pratiques (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2005), 103-27.
  • [51]
    “Rapport fait au nom de la commission d’enquête sur l’utilisation des fonds publics et la gestion des services publics en Corse” (The Glavany Report), Chairman Jean Glavany, Reporter Christian Paul, Assemblée nationale, 11th legislature, 1077, 3 September 1998, 537-40. The figures in Table 3 are from the same source, except for those after 2000, which were given by the ministry of the interior.
  • [52]
    According to the terms of a note of the general directorate of the administration of July 1997, cited in the Glavany Report, 537.
  • [53]
    The change in population only partly explains this growth: the electoral lists grew by 35% between 1992 and 2010, the total population of Corsica by around 20%.
  • [54]
    Stéphane Dufoix, “Un pont par-dessus la porte: extraterritorialisation et transétatisation des identifications nationales” in Stéphane Dufoix, Carine Pina-Guerassimoff, and Anne de Tingly (eds), Loin des yeux, près du cœur. Les États et leurs expatriés (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2010,) 15-57. See also Rainer Bauböck and Thomas Faist (eds), Diaspora and Transnationalism: Concepts, Theories and Methods (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2010).
  • [55]
    Roger Smith, Stories of Peoplehood. The Politics and Morals of Political Membership (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
  • [56]
    On this specific dimension of diasporic claims, see Rainer Bauböck, “Expansive citizenship: voting beyond territory and membership”, PS. Political Science and Politics, 38(4), 2005, 683-7; Jean- Michel Lafleur, Transnational Politics and the State. The External Voting Rights of Diasporas (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013).
  • [57]
    Among the cases that have been frequently studied, see that of Salvador (Cecilia M. Rivas, “Beyond borders and remittances: discussing Salvadorian emigrant voting rights”, Urban Anthropology, 39[1-2], 2010, 149-74) and that of Mexico (Arturo Santamaria Gómez and James Zackrison, “Politics without borders and postmodern nationality: Mexican immigration to the United States”, Latin American Perspectives, 30[2], 2003, 66-86).
  • [58]
    Jean-Michel Lafleur and Maria Sanchez-Dominguez, “The political choices of emigrants voting in home country elections: a socio-political analysis of the electoral behaviour of bolivian external voters”, Migration Studies, 3(2), 2015, 155-81.
  • [59]
    Bargel, “Les ‘originaires’ en politique”, 198.
  • [60]
    These processes and mechanisms (relations of neighborhood, position in primary groups, informal political discussions, formal and informal localized instruments of electoral mobilization, etc.) are studied in detail in Braconnier, Une autre sociologie.
  • [61]
    Jean-Noël Retière, “Autour de l’autochtonie: réflexions sur la notion de capital social populaire”, Politix, 63, 2003, 121-43. See also Nicolas Renahy, “Classes populaires et capital d’autochtonie: genèse et usages d’une notion”, Regards sociologiques, 40, 2010, 9-26.
  • [62]
    S. Dufoix, “Un pont par-dessus la porte”. On of the earliest cases of this “politics of attention” to migrant populations is that of Italy: Guido Tintori (ed), Il voto degli altri. Rappresentanza e scelte elettorali degli italiani all’estero (Turin: Rosenberg & Sellier, 2012).
  • [63]
    Rainer Bauböck, “Stakeholder citizenship and transnational political participation: a normative evaluation of transnational voting”, Fordham Law Review, 75(5), 2007, 2393-447; Sybil Rhodes and Arus Harutyunyan, “Extending citizenship to emigrants: democratic contestation and a new global norm”, International Political Science Review, 31(4), 2010, 470-93.

Since the beginning of the wave of Corsican migration to the French colonies and continental France at the end of the nineteenth century and up until the present day, numerous members of the Corsican diaspora vote in the village they come from and in which they continue to maintain a family home, social links, and emotional attachment. This article explores two main dimensions of this phenomenon: the mechanisms of the electoral mobilization of expatriate voters by local politicians; and external voting as a mean of expressing an “autochthonous” identity by members of the Corsican diaspora.


  • contextual political analysis
  • Corsica (political history)
  • electoral mobilization
  • external voting
  • political identities and identifications
  • migration
Jean-Louis Briquet
Jean-Louis Briquet is Director of Research at the CNRS’s Centre européen de sociologie et de science politique (CESSP), CNRS-EHESS-Université Paris I. He is author of La tradition en mouvement. Clientélisme et politique en Corse (Paris: Belin, 1997), and Mafia, justice et politique en Italie. L’affaire Andreotti dans la crise de la République (1992–2004) (Paris: Karthala, 2007). His work focuses on unofficial politics (clientelism, corruption, collusions between the criminal and the political) and on local power.
CESSP, Université Paris I, Département de science politique, 14 rue Cujas, 75005 Paris.
Uploaded on on 01/02/2018
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