The October 2018 vote in South Tyrol confirms the nationalists’ dominance, while Italian political parties, always a minority in that German speaking country of north Italy, have risen. South Tyrol nationalists have now secured 55% of the parliament, while they held 74% of the seats before.
Südtiroler Volkspartei (SVP) received the bulk of the votes as customary, but they lost two seats in the parliament, going from 17 to 15. The nationalist party has always been the most voted since 1948, but last years it has fallen short of landslide, a majority they would manage with 18 seats. Although they have “softened” their nationalism, down from their initial independence advocacy, election results do not back them up.
The pro-independence parties Die Freiheitlichen and Süd-Tiroler Freiheit have not fared better either in the new parliament, losing four and one seat respectively: they now secure two seats each.
The biggest surprise in this election has been the new party called Team Köllensperger. This party founded by Paul Köllensperger seeks to open a wedge between Tyrol nationalists and Italian unionism; it does not go along with South Tyrol’s self-determination, but supports German language and culture. Its leader P. Köllensperger was an MP with the Italian political party Movimento Cinque Stelle, but walked out on the grounds that it does not properly recognize South Tyrol’s cultural and linguistic identity. The nationalist leader Cristian Kollmann (Süd-Tiroler Freiheit) has declared to NAZIOGINTZA that Köllensperger’s success relies on coverage provided by the South Tyrol media and the leader’s personal charisma, rather than its political program.
The Italian political party Lega Nord has also broken into the parliament, getting four seats. It did not hold parliamentary representation before, but the leader Matteo Salvini’s implication, participating in the South Tyrol vote campaign, and the party’s momentum in Italy nowadays have made an impact in the results.
According to the political statute of South Tyrol, the incoming government must respect the rate of German speaking and Italian speaking communities as reflected in votes. That means that the winning party SVP is required to form government with an Italian party (Lega Nord, Movimento Cinque Stelle, Partito Democratico, Alto Adige Nel Cuore….).
The global vote results break down as follows:
- Nationalist block: 19 seats, or a 55% share of the parliament.
- “Inter-ethnic” block: 9 seats (Greens, Team Köllensperger)
- Italian unionist block: 10 seats, or a 26% share of the parliament.
Italy took over the historic Austrian part of South Tyrol in 1918. This year will be the 100 anniversary. During the dictator Benito Mussolini’s regime, German culture and language were subject to harsh repression. i.e. the native language German was banned, place-names were altered, and an attempt was made to Italianize the area by means of colonization. It presently enjoys wide autonomy and an autonomous parliament, where nationalist parties hold a majority. Those parties stand up for self-determination, and support a German-first approach in place-names, as well as education.