If French women vote for the first time in the municipal elections of April 29, 1945, history also holds that Pasquale Paoli, during the drafting of the Corsican Constitution, already granted the right to civic expression to Corsican women , almost two centuries ago.
The Corsican Constitution of 1755 made Corsica the first modern democratic republic in Europe. Based on the separation of powers and universal suffrage, it was in force from 1755 to 1769, when Corsica became French.
Filippo Antonio Pasquale di Paoli was a Corsican patriot, statesman and military leader who was at the forefront of resistance movements against the Genoese and later French rule in the island. He became the president of the Executive Council of the General Diet of the People of Corsica, and also designed and wrote the Constitution of the state.
It was in November 1755 that Pascal Paoli proclaimed the Corsican nation sovereign and independent of the Republic of Genoa. It drafts the Corsican Constitution that recognizes the right to vote for people over 25, including women (widows or single), to elect, at the Communal Consultations, the delegates of the Diet.
Corsica is one of the first nations in the world (with Sweden from 1708) to consider the woman as a citizen for fourteen years before Corsica became French.
The right to vote in France was initially reserved for male owners. It was felt that women’s economic dependence prevented them from exercising free choice. Thus, under the Ancien Régime, only widows with a fief and abbess mothers could elect their representatives to the States General.
At the Revolution, women being considered “passive citizens” and excluded from the right to vote. Exclusion maintained by the Constitution of 1791. The Civil Code of 1804 certainly gave them civil rights but denied them political citizenship.
Therefore, although France was one of the first countries to introduce universal male suffrage, it will take a long process to extend this right to women.
This will be done in the ordinance of April 21, 1944 taken by the provisional government of General de Gaulle in Algiers which will finally stipulate that “women are voters and eligible under the same conditions as men”, 189 years after Pasquale Paoli.
by Claudiu C. CREȚU
Source: France 3 Regions
The Bunget Arts & Culture 2019