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Dieter Steiger elected as new Vice President – ​​Politics –

Dieter Steiger elected as new Vice President – ​​Politics –

Dieter Steiger (right in photo) was elected Vice President
© APA/Robert Geiger

The South Tyrol People's Party (SVP) elected chamber MP Dieter Steiger as the party's new president on Saturday at its 66th meeting in Kursaal in Meran. 95.47 percent of delegates voted for the 59-year-old. Thus Steiger took over the presidency from State Counselor for Education and Culture Philip Aschamer, who, after bitter electoral losses in the state elections in the fall of the previous year, had announced that he would not run for re-election.

Steiger entered the race unopposed. Waltrud Digg and Verena Tröger were elected as deputies. Laden's nominee, State Counselor Daniel Alfreder, was confirmed as his deputy by the State Assembly. About 86 percent of the delegates attended the State Assembly.

Before his election, the newly appointed president emphasized the importance of the collective SVP in a speech to his party's friends. In light of increasing polarization, popular parties are under increasing pressure – but the Swiss People's Party still wants to unite society.

The chamber member also stated that he never intended to become party president. But he wants to give back to the party that has always supported him. His special interests include youth and making sure state government members have access to the states. He said he would like to see more teamwork. In recent years, intra-party conflicts have been frequent, some of which have been played out in the media. Steger has been a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies since 2022; Before he was a member of the Senate and the state parliament. The Bolzano District SVP has already tried to become the SVP. But in 2004 he lost to Elmar Pichler Röhl.

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Achammer, who has held the position for ten years, encouraged his party to show more backbone. People don't appreciate politicians who are like “flag in the wind”. He noted that the SVP was partly born out of resistance. That's why you have to stand up when there's unrest. The outgoing president has also struck a clear campaign tone towards the upcoming EU elections. The 38-year-old state assemblyman said he is proud to be the vice president every day. He finally concluded by saying: “It was an honor for me.”

The governor of South Tyrol, Arno Compacher, who briefly flirted with the position of party leader, described the Swiss People's Party in his speech, among other things, as a “party of self-government.” He reported on the status of negotiations with Rome to restore the lost powers of self-government. He said we had reached a “good point” and he was convinced the proposal would be available by the summer.

In addition to the election of the president, the European Union elections to be held in June also dominated the meeting of the vice-president of the country. Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani (Forza Italy) arrived and referred to the political agreement between the two parties regarding the elections. He pointed out: “Language does not differentiate as much as values ​​unite.” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also addressed her EU-level party colleagues in a video and once again announced that she wanted to lower the protective status of wolves.

On the sidelines of the party congress, there was also an exchange of talks between Tajani and Tyrolean Governor Anton Mattel (ÖVP), who was also present, about the ongoing issue of the Brenner Crossing and Italy's lawsuit before the European Court of Justice over the anti-Tirol Crossing. – Transit measures. Tajani, who knows the problem well from his time as EU Transport Commissioner, expressed hope that common sense would prevail. He stressed that both sides are interested in protecting the environment and that the most important goal is to divert traffic from road to railway.

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In his speech, Mattel referred to the People's First Party as a “centre party” and emphasized the continued great importance of popular parties. They support a policy of balance and unification. However, the center has become increasingly narrow, wary of political extremes on the left and right spectrum. He said that this must be addressed in the same way as previous speakers.

The replacement of the SVP president became necessary after Achammer announced that he would not run for re-election. In addition to Steiger, another prominent VP figure has previously expressed interest in the position: Governor Compacher essentially agreed to serve as party chairman for a transitional period if worse comes to worst. He had said that he did not want to close his mind if this was the party's desire and would serve long-term planning. But when Steger expressed his willingness, Compacher was quick to reconcile with him and said he was a “good candidate.”

At the beginning of February, Achammer announced that “the time to reboot” is now. After the defeat in the state elections – where the Swiss People's Party lost more than seven percentage points and ended up with just over 34 percent – the party needed a structural, programmatic and personal realignment, which had been in place since the beginning of February with the freedom of South Tyrol. Fratelli d'Italia, Lega and La Civica govern in a coalition of five centre-right parties.