Sud Tirol Volkspartei


Sud Tirol Volkspartei
South Tyrol People’s Party (SVP)
   The official voice of the German-speaking majority in the province of Bolzano, the SVPwas founded in May 1945 by Erich Ammon, the recognized leader of those German-speaking Italian citizens who had chosen not to take German citizenship or to immigrate to Germany during the war. After the collapse of Nazi Germany and the reconstitution of Austria, the new party’s representatives played an important background role in the talks between Italy and Austria that led, in September 1946, to the signature of a crucial accord between Alcide De Gasperi and the Austrian chancellor, Karl Gruber. Under its terms, Italy, in exchange for a guarantee of its borders, made a commitment to allow citizens who had opted for citizenship of the Third Reich to regain their Italian nationality and promised to introduce measures that would permit the German-speaking minority to exercise considerable local autonomy. The SVP’s political activity since 1946 has mostly been concerned with securing and amplifying the guarantees of autonomy provided by the De Gasperi-Gruber accord. The 1948 decision to make Trentino Alto-Adige one of five special autonomous regions recognized by Italy’s Constitution gave the two provinces of Trento and Bolzano substantial political autonomy while continuing subsidies from Rome. In 1964, after a period of prolonged international pressure from the Austrian government, the SVPpersuaded Italy to grant a “packet” of measures ensuring greater attention to the rights of the German- and Romansch-speaking (Ladini) minorities in Bolzano, and in the early 1970s the party succeeded in making knowledge of German compulsory for anybody employed in the public services. This measure enormously embittered the tens of thousands of Italians living in Bolzano and allowed the neofascist Movimento Sociale Italiano/Italian Social Movement (MSI) to establish itself as the main opposition party. Despite the concessions to the Germanspeaking minority, Alto Adige was the theater for sporadic outbursts of terrorist activity in the 1970s by nationalists organized as Ein Tirol (“One Tyrol”). The SVPdid not always condemn the activities of this organization.
   The SVPhas dominated general and local elections in the province of Bolzano throughout the postwar years. It survived the crash of its main ally in Rome—the Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy Party (DC)—with aplomb. Bolzano’s tranquility is only skin deep, however. Only the Italian taxpayers’largesse has prevented the growth of a movement in favor of rewriting the De Gasperi-Gruber accords to allow either outright independence or unification with Austria.
   See also Alps; Regionalism.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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