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Union for South Tyrol

The Union for South Tyrol (Union für Südtirol, UfS) is an separatist, nationalist and conservative political party active in the Province of Bolzano committed to the German-speaking minority and its right to self-determination. Its current leader is Andreas Pöder.

UfS, once a member of the European Free Alliance, was expelled from that organization in 2008 after it refused to condemn islamophobia and insisted upon the defense of "European Christian values".

History

UfS 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 1998 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 unoficially led by Klotz.

In the 2003 provincial election, UfS won 6.8% of the vote and gained 2 seats in the Provincial Council. After a power struggle, especially with Pöder, who was elected party president with 76 votes in favour and 70 against in a party congress, in May 2007 the historic party leader Klotz left the party and founded a new far right movement named South Tyrolean Freedom.

In the 2008 general election, severely damaged by the split and by the competition of The Libertarians (9.4%), UfS gained only 4.2% of the vote in the Province.

Ideology

Since the exit of Eva Klotz, UfS has tried to renew its image and to present itself as a centrist-conservative party. The party program includes defense of family values, protection of the environment and a moderately liberal economic policy, anlong with the historic goal of separating the Province of Bolzano from Italy in order to re-unify South Tyrol with the Austrian state of Tyrol.

If The Libertarians have for a long-time a pact with the Freedom Party of Austria, although the relations between the two parties have become much more colder in the last years, Union for South Tyrol has formed an alliance with the Alliance for the Future of Austria.

Leadership

References

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