Verdi-Grüne-Verc in South Tyrol.
Sketches of History of a Green Party in an alpine region.
The Greens (Verdi-Grüne-Verc) are a green, regionalist and left-wing political party, active in The Autonome Provinz Bozen-Südtirol / Provincia autonoma di Bolzano, Alto Adige (Autonomous Province of Bolzano-South Tyrol), at the Northern border of Italy. VGV is a particular political expression of this plurilingual region, with German, Italian and Ladin speaking-population, which are the main linguistic groups among 140 other nationalities.
In a region such as South Tyrol, that since 1919 belongs to Italy, characterized by political movements and parties, which mainly follow ethnic cleavages, VGV are constantly trying to realize inclusive, multicultural politics, in respect of nature and environment in one of the important biospheres and habitats of the Alps.
VGV, which took its start in 1978 is – after the Südtiroler Volkspartei (SVP: South Tyrolese People’s Party, founded in 1945), the political movement with the longest tradition in the South Tyrolean Provincial Council.
Despite being since a few years ago the provincial section of the Federation of the Greens, VGV are now an autonomous party, which obtained 8,7% of the votes in the last provincial election in 2013.
The Greens VGV have their roots in the New Left and the environmental movements of the 1970s. Founder of the Movement was Alexander “Alex” Langer (1946-1995), born in Sterzing/Vipiteno, a charismatic brigde builder in the Green Movement of Italy and Europe, since 1989 as a MEP until his untimely death in 1995. As Monica Frassoni, Dany Cohn-Bendit and Sepp Kusstatscher stated in 2005, “some of Alex’s ideas and proposals gained a consensus that went well beyond our political family and he is still remembered in our institution (EP) as one of its more marking members.”
VGV started to compete in elections in 1978, but were formally registered as a party only in 1996. From 1978 to 1996 we and our predecessors used different names: Neue Linke/Nuova Sinistra (New Left) 1978, Alternative List (1983),Green Alternative List (1988) and finally Greens.
The last 13 years most times were a quite successful period, starting in 2003 when in Provincial elections the party obtained 7,9% of the vote and three provincial councillors: Cristina Kury (*1949), elected for the first time in 1993, was (and is still) and outstanding politician, who had guaranteed continuity after the death of Alex Langer, Sepp Kusstatscher (* 1947, a former member of the SVP) and Hans Heiss (*1952).
In the 2004 Europan Parliament election, the Greens won 13,1% of the vote in Province, their best result ever, and sent Sepp Kusstatscher to the European Parliament, replacing Reinhold Messner.
After the leaving of Cristina Kury, in the 2008 provincial elections the Greens won only the 5,8% of the vote and lost one seat. The two elected VGV councillors were Hans Heiss and Riccardo Dello Sbarba, who has succeeded to Kusstatscher after his election in EP.
Dello Sbarba, from 2006 to 2008 was also President of Provincial Council, although VGV were still in opposition. Already Alessandra Zendron, elected for VGV in 1993, had covered this important office from 2001 to 2003, at the same time her presence was the expression of the central role, covered by women in VGV, from the period of Andreina Emeri (1935-1985) until the leading position of Brigitte Foppa in present times.
In the 2013 political election in Italy, VGV did not follow the national party into the Civil Revolution alliance and decided instead to support “Left Ecology Freedom”, which included Florian Kronbichler in its slate. Kronbichler was the first German-speaking South Tyrolean to be elected in a list different from SVP’s.
In the 2013 provincial election the Green won 8,7% of the vote (+2,9%), their record in a provincial election and sent three elects to the Provincial Council: Hans Heiss, Brigitte Foppa and Riccardo Dello Sbarba. In the 2014 European elections, the Greens supported the left-wing electoral alliance “The other Europe”.
On the territory of South Tyrol, VGV is usually stronger in cities than in rural areas and is part of the majority in Bolzano/Bozen since 2000. In Merano/Meran, VGV under leadership of Cristina Kury in 2015 sustained major candidate Paul Rösch in a coalition, which won municipality elections. In Brixen/Bressanone, Hans Heiss in 2005 guided a Green Civic List, which obtained more than 27% of the votes.
The electoral base of VGV, in linguistic terms, is covered by 80% by german and ladin speaking voters, but a strong minority of italian-speaking citizens votes green, although there is no more any green presence on national scale.
VGV in South Tyrol today are one of the major political forces, able to show their competence in a lot of issues, ranging from education, environment, autonomy politics up to economy and energy. Our party is a strong sustainer of South-Tyrol autonomy, as the best form of governance able to guarantee rights, sustainability and health for this particular region.