DOSSIER. The Italian State is undergoing a deep federalist reform, and South Tyrol is one of the territories willing to get further in its demands for more self-government. South Tyrol is mainly a German-speaking country, although Ladin people live in some areas of the Dolomite Mountains, a section of the Eastern Alps cutting across South Tyrolean territory. The main autonomist party, the South Tyrolean People's Party (SVP), has been governing for the last 20 years, and after the last elections has set the goal of obtaining fiscal autonomy and more powers transferred.
South Tyrol is a mountainous country at the northernmost point in Italian Republic, bordered by Austrian Tyrol to the North (hence the name), Switzerland to the West, Veneto to the South-East, Trentino to the South and Lombardy to the East. In administrative terms, it is called Autonomous Province of Bolzano-South Tyrol, and it is one of the two units comprising the Region of Trentino-Alto Adige, one of the five regions which is granted special autonomous status by Italian Constitution.
South Tyrol is, in other words, a self-governing country within another autonomous territory. Since the 1972 regional reform, and unlike the rest of provinces, Bolzano-South Tyrol enjoys a high level of legislative powers. It also has a considerable fiscal autonomy, as 90% of the taxes collected are retained in the province.
As regards legislative issues, South Tyrol has exclusive powers over place names, tourism, town planning, agriculture and primary education, among others. Local police, secondary education, trade and health care are issues over which the province shares powers with Italy.
The agenda for the new legislature the South Tyrolean People's Party (SVP) -the political party governing the country in coalition with the Democratic Party (Partito Democratico, PD) - outlined last December 30 gave priority to fiscal federalism and announced the purpose of demanding the transfer of more powers from Rome to Bozen (Bolzano, in Italian), the capital of the province.
Among other issues, the president of the province, Luis Durnwalder, mentioned transfer of powers over the postal service, public security and state and judiciary staff, as well as the Italian public service broadcaster (RAI). The South Tyrolean government wants RAI to include German and Ladin, the county's own languages, in television and radio schedules. Click here for the relevant Nationalia article.
South Tyrol's political arena is mainly monopolized by South Tyrol-only political parties. Majority parties in Italy - Il Popolo della Libertà and Partito Democratico- only have 5 seats out of 35, whereas South Tyrolean nationalists have no less than 26.
There are, though, remarkable differences among the nationalist political spectrum. The SVP (18 seats), autonomist and Christian democrat, defends the interests of the German and Ladin communities, but it does not call for the current status to be altered -a large autonomy granted by a bilateral agreement between Italy and Austria, under the Statute of Autonomy of 1972. Several other parties wish to go beyond the status-quo. Such is the case of the Libertarians (5 seats), which ask for a referendum for reunification with Austria to be held, the Union for South Tyrol (1 seat) and its splinter party South Tyrolean Freedom (2 seats), both committed to the right to self-determination.
The Green Party has also presence in the Parliament of South Tyrol (2 seats), as well as the Northern League Südtirol and Unitalia (1 seat each). Click on South Tyrol profile for further information.
Picture: Flag of South Tyrol, photo by Florian Seiffert.