Christmas Issue 2011
Crazy Corsica On The Campaigning
orothy Carrington in her book Granite Island: A Portrait of Corsica, describes the first impressions of Corsica on her first visit in 1948. “The mountains surged into the sky, behind, beyond, above one another, ending in rows of cones and spikes and squaretopped knobs like gigantic teeth. Their lower slopes, smothered in vegetation, looked uninhabited and impenetrable.” This mysterious island is not to be underestimated by any stretch, it is home to a people strongly motivated to preserve the traditional Corsica, the natural beauty of the island both physical and cultural, as described by Carrington.
thus allowing slightly more independence, this is demonstrated for example, by the obligatory Corsican language test for all those hoping to become a teacher here. At present, approximately 65% of the population here still speak Corsican but there is also a real push at the moment from the local authorities for a greater usage of the Corsican language in day to day life, rather than the more commonly used French. Their own governing comes in the form of the Corsican Assembly; a unicameral legislative body formed of 51 members, which is based in the Corsican Capital, Ajaccio. In recent times, it has gone further than anonymous graffiti and there have been
I write this, a summary of Corsican politics, from the perspective of an ERASMUS student having lived in Corte, the town in the centre of Corsica, for three months. Nevertheless, in this short time I feel as if I have been exposed to the honest truths of this complicated subject, yet I am not naïve to believe that I have witnessed the full scale of it. An island so isolated and yet so riled with political activism and confrontation, Corsican politics and national beliefs are a daily issue being debated amongst the Corsican people. What the island lacks in terms of the number of inhabitants, barely surpassing 300,000, they make up for in enthusiasm for national pride concerning a desire for autonomy from Metropolitan France and in general. They are not opposed to sharing this political opinion freely. In order to better comprehend the importance of the Corsican nationalist movement, one must simply look at the graffiti found covering the walls, both inside and out, of the university buildings in central Corsica, Corte. No sooner have the messages for independence and letters FLNC (The National Liberation Front of Corsica) been painted out, have they reappeared once more in abundance. Despite Corsica’s continuing struggle to be an independent island from Metropolitan France, it is still in fact one of the 27 regions of France and is therefore under the same form of government. It is in law known as a ‘territorial collectivity’ which means it has an elected local government
forms of terrorism in connection with the extremist political groups within Corsica. Further back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the FLNC carried out bombings concentrating on buildings that represented a French presence on the island, such as tourist facilities, military and police stations and even went as far as bombing some Frenchowned holiday homes. It is important to note that they did not intend for human casualties and so carried out these attacks when the buildings were unoccupied, however there have been known to be human fatalities due to these actions. More recently, from 2004 the number of attacks on holiday homes increased at the same time as the FLNC started to split to divide the more violent members of the party, from those who did not intend to cause such severe damage and avoid human fatality. This being said, Corsica itself is one of the most beautiful places I have been privileged to visit. It must be noted that, although the terrorism and almost xenophobic attitude shared by some of the Corsican population should not be condoned, one can appreciate their desire to preserve the island in its natural form now, in order to avoid a potential loss of tradition and real Corsican culture. What remains to be seen, is how and if the Corsican and French people will work together as one country in the future, or if Corsica will in fact become the independent island it hopes to be.
“An island so isolated and yet riled with political activism”
ies, rumours and cover-ups have gone hand in hand with American elections since the late 1700’s, where sex scandals, undesirable relatives and the shady exchange of money were all prime ammunition for presidential candidates. The boundaries are removed and outcome the forbidden topics; the popular religious gambits and, hot topics for the White House, war and terrorism. As a result, no candidate will be able to take a debate during their campaign without having a quote or two taken out of context and manipulated with the aim of giving them a public status worthy of Nixon. Take Herman Cain for instance; cancer survivor, patriotic Navy man and high-flying corporate executive. Popularity showed him as a strong contender in the Republican push for the Presidency, scoring higher in polls among Tea Party activists last February than Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. Step forward then accusations of sexual harassment and, coincidently, just in time to question his character for the state level primaries in January. Claims like
this, even if they’re unsubstantiated, remain in the public consciousness, especially among voters who remain undecided. Even the most objective of Americans will wonder if
there is no smoke without fire, especially when the media has rolled out an article every day since the headline broke as “gentle” reminders. Anyone appears to be fair game, including the female front runner for the 2012 elections Michelle Bachmann, the first republican woman elected into the House of Representatives. With a past resume as tax litigation attorney and an enthusiastic tea party insurgent, she is running on the premise of simplification all wrapped in a package of Christian-conservative ideals. What wasn’t part of her campaign plan were accusations of questionable mental health, with resistant republicans spanning the line “Stress related condition “incapacitates” presidential candidate; heavy pill
gypt, Egypt, Egypt; this has not been your year! The 25th of January saw the start of the revolution. Revolts sprang up in Cairo amongst the whirlpool of African rebellion as, after decades of frustrations finally over spilled, rioting was rife across Egypt. Almost one thousand deaths and six thousand injuries were the consequences of the fighting, yet finally on 11 February, their battering was finally worth it. President Mubarak resigned from office. Some would say that the overthrowing of a dictatorship that lasted thirty years would put an end to the trauma and suffering; yet it was only the beginning of the struggle for
Egypt. Free elections, police brutality and below par minimum wages were not going to be solved overnight. Even so, in the run up to the one year anniversary of the start of the riots, Egypt is still marred in political corruption and scandal. Yet Monday 27th of November sees
the start of change in the home of the pyramids; elections are being held for both houses of parliament and democracy is, hopefully, about to be restored. However recent disturbances show that the elections are not the symbol of democracy people had long hoped for. Tensions surrounding the current
use alleged.” Voters should perhaps draw their own conclusions based on some of Bachman’s somewhat questionable debate quotes, “Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful, but there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas”. We’re filing that one under ‘suspect’. It seems that even the world’s golden boy, Barack Obama, has crafted a well devised smoke screen, allowing a few below-the-belt punches of his own. There is some evidence to suggest heavy involvement by a senior advisor, David Axelrod, in the prominent smear campaign of the 2012 election. The sexual harassment allegations brought against Herman Cain are just part of a colourful history of sexual misconduct cases aimed at Obama’s opponents. Surprising then that Obama has donned his patriotic halo and plucked at the heart strings of the everyday American by damning the use of smart techniques. “What you won’t hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics… that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize.” No candidate, it appears, is squeaky clean. However, if you can survive the name calling, the bullying and accusations, you’re sufficiently prepared to lead one of the world’s most powerful nations. Nothing weeds out a weak candidate like the inability to side step a good smear campaign and maintain that everyman image. Darwin eat your heart out, it’s survival of the most adaptable in American politics.
Chris Buckingham and Hannah Baker
Downfall of dictator brings about the first free election in Egypt for 30 years
military rule in Egypt have been paramount, with renewed rioting appearing in Cairo over the past fortnight or so. The public fear that the military leadership, headed by Field Marshall Tantawi are refusing to relinquish their power in government. The last week alone has seen two thousand injuries
and over forty deaths. Military commander Tantawi is trying to push through his candidate for Prime Minister, 78 year old Kamal Ganzouri. Many believe that if he does win the election then it will just be a continuation of Mubarak. So what will all the fighting, the losses and the bloodshed have been for? Yet after all this, the elections have suffered few security scares, even with queues up to two miles in length before polling had begun! With this the only freedom they have, it looks like the Egyptians are going to grab it with both hands.
Published on Dec 2, 2011
This is the December 2011/12 issue of Seren, Bangor Univeristy's English Language Newspaper. Produced by students for students.