Citizens' Union for South Tyrol
|Citizens' Union for South Tyrol
BürgerUnion für Südtirol
|Founded||2 October 1989|
|Headquarters||via Garibaldi, 6
|European Parliament group||no MEPs|
|Chamber of Deputies|
|Politics of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol
The Citizens' Union for South Tyrol (German: BürgerUnion für Südtirol, BUfS; formerly Union for South Tyrol, German: Union für Südtirol, UfS) is a national-conservative political party active in South Tyrol committed to the German-speaking minority and its right to self-determination. Recently, the party re-branded itself as a centrist party and distanced from the separatism of other German-speaking parties. Its current leader is Andreas Pöder.
The Union for South Tyrol was founded on 2 October 1989 by the merger of the nationalist South Tyrolean Homeland Federation of Eva Klotz (2.3% in the 1988 provincial election), the liberal-conservative Freedom Party of South Tyrol led by Gerold Meraner and right-wing splinters from the South Tyrolean People's Party led by Alfons Benedikter.
In the 1993 provincial election the party won 4.8% of the vote and gained 2 seats in the Provincial Council, one for Klotz and one for Benedikter. In the 1996 general election the party had its best result ever (7.7% for party list and 19.2% in single-seat constituencies), because the South Tyrolean People's Party had formed an alliance with some Italian parties.
In the 1998 provincial election the UfS won 5.5% and Andreas Pöder, party secretary since 1994, was elected for the first time to the Council, along with Klotz. This was a turning point for the party as Pöder started to gain influence and power within the party, which was unofficially led by Klotz.
In the 2003 provincial election, the UfS won 6.8% of the vote and gained 2 seats in the Provincial Council.
In May 2007, during a heated party congress, Pöder was re-elected party president with 76 votes in favour and 70 against. This led to a split led by Kloz, who launched a new strictly separatist movement named South Tyrolean Freedom (STF).
In the 2008 general election, severely damaged by the split and by the competition of The Freedomites (9.4%), the UfS gained only 4.2% of the vote in the Province. In the 2008 provincial election the party got only 2.3% of the vote and one elect in the Provincial Council, while STF and The Freedomites won the 14.3% and the 4.9% of the vote, respectively.
The UfS renamed itself to Citizens' Union for South Tyrol (BUfS) on 12 May 2011.
In the forthcoming 2013 provincial election the BUfS will run as part of a three-party list, along with Ladins Dolomites, a centre-left outfit, and We South Tyroleans, a left-wing split from The Freedomites. The joint list won 2.1% of the vote and Pöder was re-elected to the Provincial Council.
Since the exit of Eva Klotz, the UfS tried to renew its image and to present itself as a centrist-conservative party. The 2008 party programme included defense of family values, protection of the environment, and a moderately liberal economic policy, along with the historic goal of separating South Tyrol from Italy in order to re-unify it with old historic Tyrol composed from South, North and East Tyrol, founding the Europaregion Tirol (North-and East-Tyrol are actually parts of Austria).
More recently, the party re-branded itself as a centrist, to some extent centre-left, party and distanced from its original separatism and the parties of the "German right". On the 2013 campaign trail, Pöder even declared: "Don't call us German right, we are a centrist movement".
The electoral results of the UfS in the Province of Bolzano since 1992 are shown in the table below.
|1992 general||1993 provinc.||1994 general||1994 European||1996 general||1998 provinc.||1999 European||2001 general||2003 provinc.||2004 European||2006 general||2008 general||2008 provinc.||2009 European||2013 general||2013 provinc.|
- President/Secretary: Alfons Benedikter (1989–1991), Martin Wenter (1991–1993), Karl Augusten (1993–1994), Andreas Pöder (1994–present)
- Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck
- This result refers to single-seat constituencies; the party list of the UfS won 19.2% for proportional representation, because the South Tyrolean People's Party had formed an alliance with some Italian parties.
- In list with We South Tyroleans and Ladins Dolomites.
- The president (Obmann) was replaced by the figure of the secretary (Landessekretär) from 1994 to 2007, when the title Obmann was reintroduced. Pöder was thus party secretary from 1994 to 2007 and president since 2007.