In brief

South Tyrol’s autonomists win but lose ground as right-wing independentists double votes

Government formation will be hard for re-election candidate Arno Kompatscher

Seventeen elections since 1948, seventeen wins. The SVP, the main autonomist party in South Tyrol, won the Provincial Council election once again, although the most notable development was the growth of the pro-independence right-wing forces, which share an anti-immigration viewpoint. They reached a combined 22% of the vote —almost double the figure five years ago (13%).

The South Tyrolean People's Party (SVP) of incumbent President Arno Kompatscher ran in the election with a continuity programme, which included new demands for devolution of powers from Rome and, in any case, the preservation of South Tyrolean self-government from centralist designs. South Tyroleans have once again trusted the SVP (34% of the vote and 13 seats out of 35 at stake), but the party is showing clear evidence of its electoral weakening. This is their worst-ever result in all seventeen elections, as well as the third time they have failed to win an absolute majority.

The opposite trend can be seen in the right-wing pro-independence camp, with three parties that, with different nuances, agree in pointing to Rome as responsible for many of South Tyrol’s ills and blaming foreigners for insecurity and other problems in the Alpine country’s towns and villages. South Tyrolean Freedom (STF), with 10.9% of the vote and 4 seats; Jürgen Wirth Anderlan's list (JWA, a candidate who achieved notoriety in 2021 with an anti-feminist, racist, and homophobic song), with 5.9% and 2 seats, and Die Freiheitlichen, with 4.9% and 2 seats too, put the openly secessionist vote at one of its historic high points.

The SVP now needs to find more partners if it wants Kompatscher to remain at the head of the Provincial Council: the party with which it governed in the last legislature, the League, has seen its vote dwindle and retains only one seat, not enough to form a majority with the SVP’s 13. The pro-autonomy party has two main options: to seek more support from the right (e.g. Prime Minister Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (FdI) and Die Freiheitlichen) or to turn to the centre and seek the support of the second and third parties in the chamber: Team K (liberals) and Grüne-Verdi-Vërc (centre-left ecologists).