Problems and Purpose
The debate on Bolzano airport and its future development has been active for several years. On the one hand, there is the need to upgrade the airport in terms of aircraft size (currently only suitable for small twin-engine cargo jets, or turboprop up to 50 passengers) and number of flights to make it profitable and attractive for airlines. This objective requires new investments for the adaptation of the organization, of the airport structures and the extension of the runway, therefore new public resources , given that the sole owner is the Autonomous Province of Bolzano.
The objective therefore contrasts with the high perceived risk (increased environmental and economic impact compared to the relatively low value of the opportunity offered) by a large group of opponents: the environmental organizations, the Heimatpflegeverband, the Alpenverein Südtirol, the committees of residents and farmers closest to the track, the Greens (led by Brigitte Foppa) the Süd-Tiroler Freiheit (the self-determination party led by Eva Klotz), the Bürger Union für Südtirol, the Freiheitlichen, the mayor and councilors of Laives del Südtirolervolkspartei (the SVP is the majority party that has governed South Tyrol since the war, a historic ally of the DC, today an ally of the PD) and the SVPs of the whole of Bassa Atesina. It should be noted that the SVP has already faced an internal conflict on the occasion of the first referendum of 2009, when the component of the Bassa Atesina was to limit air traffic while President Durnwalder called for abstention to boycott the referendum : an operation that succeeded thanks to a few thousand blank ballots. Therefore, even on this occasion of public debate on airport strategies that reappears in 2016, faced with a consultative referendum on a provincial scale, while the central management of the SVP was making propaganda with posters to support the Yes to the development plan, the mayor of Laives distributed gadgets and organized public meetings to support the vote against .
Among the supporters there are Assoimprenditori, the Association of Hoteliers and Public Merchants (HGV), which jointly - from 1 February 2016 in view of the referendum - have activated an online Forum and a special office dedicated to the airport theme in the central area of Bolzano , registering 170 thousand visits and a thousand questions in a month and a half . Another committee "for the expansion of Bolzano airport", created by a former councilor of the Northern League was set up via Facebook. Another "information and discussion portal on the airport" that is still active is Fly Bolzano, which has been operational since 2009, "created by citizens, enthusiasts and professionals in the sector who believe in an airport with multiple connections that acts as a driving force for tourism and South Tyrolean economy ". Then there are the exponents of the Italian-speaking parties of the right and center-right (including the PSI) who are all in favor of its strengthening .
Background History and Context
The debate on Bolzano Airport is intertwined with that of the increase in South Tyrolean local democracy. The protagonists of the two themes are roughly the same. On the one hand the provincial administration and on the other the “Initiative for more democracy” movement, supported by many associations and various council groups, some competitors, but in any case for an increase in direct democracy and against airport development.
Bolzano airport consists of a single asphalted runway, 1290 meters long, located south of the city, in the hamlet of San Giacomo, bordering an industrial area to the north in the Municipality of Bolzano, the railway to the east and a vast agricultural area flat to the west and south, falling within the Municipality of Laives. The track is oriented on the north-south axis. The alpine context and the characteristic basin in which the urbanized areas of Bolzano and the neighboring municipalities develop, originating from the conjunction of the Adige and Isarco valleys, force the pilots to always use the south side of the track, both for the route for both landing and take-off orientation. This generates greater environmental pressure on agricultural areas and municipalities south of Bolzano, in particular on the territory of the Municipality of Laives .
Built in 1926 from which scheduled flights departed for Milan, Venice, Innsbruck and Munich, in the nineties it was affected by major modernization works, extension of the runway, construction of the terminal and 2 hangars, control tower, vehicle parking and road access. Until 2015, three companies took turns in the management of scheduled flights to Rome, while at the moment (12/2/17) there are only summer charter flights and private flights (business and tourism) .
The development of the airport has long been contested by environmental groups. In 2009 (25 October) there was a proactive referendum in which South Tyrolean citizens were submitted to 5 questions on as many bills. The first concerned the priority of access to subsidized housing for the local population; the second concerned a law that modified the urban planning law with the aim of regulating / limiting residences for leisure, that is, second homes for holidays for non-residents; a third and fourth question concerned two distinct bills on direct democracy, the first promoted by the “Union für Südtirol” party and the second by the “Initiative for more democracy”; the fifth point instead concerned a law for the reduction of air traffic proposed by the environmental association Dachverband für Natur- und Umweltschutz in Südtirol (Federation of South Tyrolean Protectionists). These proactive referendums - previously not foreseen in the legal system - were possible thanks to the provincial law 11/2005, the partial result of a long battle that the Initiative for more democracy began in 1995.
The result of the 2009 referendum would have been positive on all five questions. The two proposals (third and fourth) of direct democracy were in competition with each other but the fourth got more votes in favor and fewer votes against than the third. Even the turnout would have been sufficient to reach the quorum of 40%, thus obtaining the (non-binding) validity of the referendum, but the high number of blank ballots did not allow to reach this goal in any of the cases; specifically, the fourth proposal on direct democracy reached 83% of consensus on 38.1% of the electorate, with 7.2% of ballots void and 6.6% blank; the fifth proposal on the airport reached 81% of consensus on 38.2% of the electorate, with 5.9% of ballots void and 5.4% blank .
In 2011 the Initiative re-proposed a new version of the law providing for particular protections for ethnic minorities, when issues of this importance are submitted to the vote and an independent editorial committee responsible for drafting the institutional information brochure on the referendum question, which instead in 2009 it was looked after only by the Giunta. In 2012, while the majority party, led in those years by Luis Durnwalder (SVP), elaborated its own proposal for the regulation of consultation and referendum initiatives, the Initiative led by Stephan Lausch, asked that their proposal and that of the SVP are submitted to the choice of citizens by referendum. The answer was negative and in June 2013, with only the votes of the SVP majority, the Council approved the law on referendums, also on administrative acts (a sort of referendum on investments and public works), and eliminates the quorum, but they are quadrupled the necessary signatures (32,000 signatures against the current 8,000), eliminates the confirmatory referendum (provided for by the provincial law 10/2002, applicable to institutional structure issues that involve statutory changes, as in the national case it does not prescribe a quorum) and inserts other measures aimed at to discourage grassroots initiatives . For this reason, using the 10/2002 law, the confirmatory referendum is called on 9/2/2014, one month after the inauguration of the new President Kompatscher. Despite the low turnout, which reaches 26.4%, in the absence of a quorum for this type of (confirmatory) referendum, 65% of the votes against (68,463 votes) is sufficient to block the approval of the new law  . Since this victory, the Initiative has continued its action for the promotion of a new law that favors and simplifies the procedures (reduction of signatures) for the participation of citizens and the promotion of referendums, expanding their subjects and effectiveness (abolition of the quorum also for consultative, proactive and abrogative referendums). From the work of the first legislative commission of the Council, a proposal is now emerging - which is about to be approved - which reduces the quorum to 25% and keeps the signatures necessary for the activation of the referendum and of the 2% (8000 signatures). popular law initiative. It extends the subject of the pre-referendum suspension also to resolutions of the Executive that provide for investments exceeding 0.5% of the provincial budget. Furthermore, it introduces a more streamlined participatory procedure, the “Council of citizens and citizens” composed of a stratified random sample (based on linguistic group, gender and age) of at least 12 people over 16 years of age. It is an auxiliary body, convened for a day and a half, on a single issue, which expresses recommendations and suggestions in a joint and unanimously shared declaration. Finally, of the other innovations, it should be remembered the establishment of an office for political training and participation with tasks of promoting democratic culture, information on the subject of the referendums, organization of Citizens' Councils, support and assistance to the promoters of participatory processes. and referendums. According to the bill, the office plays its role independently and impartially and is supervised by a council and is assisted by a scientific committee. Its members are appointed by each council group (one member per group) and the 4 members of the scientific committee are elected half by the majority and half on the proposal of the minority. Regarding information before a referendum, the new bill provides for a brochure to be sent to all families at least 10 days before the vote. The Participation Office creates an editorial team made up equally of representatives from both parties. The drafting takes place jointly and there must be consent on the contents. All parties represented in the Council can equally provide voting information in the brochure. In addition, transparency is required for all those who finance direct or indirect expenses related to propaganda during referendums. Finally, a reimbursement of expenses to the promoters in the amount of 1 euro for each valid signature is foreseen, up to the minimum number necessary, the expenses for the members of the eligibility commissions and the carrying out of operations including those incurred by the Municipalities [5 ].
This model of participation, although it has not yet entered into force, is the one that has been partly adopted by the Kompatscher Executive, on the question of the Airport, in line with its program oriented towards a strong participatory turn, compared to the Durnwalder era ( Agreement, 2013).
The airport is owned by the Province through the company ABD Airport SpA (since 1992), which since 2009 has become 'in house' with the Province as the sole shareholder. Since 2012, the Swiss-Tyrolean airline Air Alps has withdrawn from the airport, which for a decade had been managing scheduled flights from Bolzano to Rome, with the 30-33 passenger Dornier 328 twin-engine turboprop engines. Then also the Swiss company Darwin Airlines (operating under the Etihad Regional brand of Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates which owns 33% of the company), which from 2013 until July 2014 manages flights to / from Rome with larger Saab 2000 twin-engine turboprop engines with 50 seats, leaves the airport. To complicate the matter, in August 2013, there was the blocking of the works for the extension of the runway, by the TAR (Regional Administrative Court) on appeal by the WWF and the Dachverband and by the Municipality of Laives , which would be served to guarantee the flights of the 50-seat Saabs and the landing of the 70-seat ATRs throughout the season. The Province will then be condemned by the TAR because it had not involved the Municipality of Laives (which has always been an opponent of the airport) but the owner of the territory on which much of the runway and its impact falls . Then the Province takes time, begins to propose compensation to Laives and at the same time appeals to the Council of State, second and last level of judgment in administrative justice proceedings .
Meanwhile, Kompatscher is attacked by the environmentalists of the Dachverband for not keeping the promises, repeatedly declared in his 2013 election campaign, to hold a referendum on the airport case, despite the fact that he considers its development to be strategically valid . Motion n.369, presented by Andreas Pöder (Bürger Union für Südtirol) on 22/4/15 was discussed in the extraordinary session of the Council on 11/6/15. We ask that an industrial plan be drawn up by the end of October 2015 and set a date for the referendum. Following the discussion, various interventions, including that of Councilor Mussner and President Kompatscher, the motion was approved with 29 votes in favor, unanimously. Kompatscher announces the goal of completing the industrial plan by October and immediately after that deadline to set the date for the referendum. A few days later, the Council of State, to which the Province and its subsidiary ABD (airport management company) had resorted, overturns the previous sentence of the TAR and judges the procedure that had started the expansion works of the runway, up to that moment blocked, but Komptscher declares that the plans do not change, the companies have now withdrawn, so we proceed consistently with what was announced, without continuing the work . From the first analyzes , then confirmed by the development plan presented on 20 October 2015 in the Provincial Council , it is clear that further works are needed to expand the runway, the reconstruction of some structures and a reorganization plan with a view to increasing the flights, the size of the aircraft and therefore the number of passengers, currently too small to allow an airline as well as an airport manager to have sufficient profits to justify the stop. Kompatscher presents the development plan drawn up by experts from Vienna and adopts it as a development plan for the air transport of the province. While supporting it on the merits, at the same time it recognizes the value of the democratic way of public participation in the decision and submits the Council's resolution to a consultative referendum, inviting everyone to vote and guaranteeing that it will not take into account the quorum limit of 40% .
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The first referendum on the issue in 2014 was promoted by the environmental association Dachverband and supported by many other organized groups. Kompatscher had promised a referendum during the electoral campaign  but did not explicitly include it in his program (Agreement, 2013) despite the significant stance on citizen participation. Given the protraction of the issue, on 22/4/15 an opposition councilor, Andreas Pöder (Bürger Union für Südtirol), presented a motion requesting the referendum which will be discussed in the session of 11/6/15 and approved unanimously , supported by all the directors. The Provincial Council according to the Provincial Law 11/2005 can decide by absolute majority the calling of a consultative referendum. However, there is no lack of opposing voices pressing on the council, less inclined to grant empowerment to the referendum, such as the president Ebner of the Chamber of Commerce and Pinzger, president of the HGV, like many of its associated hoteliers .
The only financier of the referendum is obviously the institution that indexes it, therefore the Province of Bolzano. From an interview with S. Lausch of “Initiative for more democracy”, it seems that from the declarations of the Province the total cost of the provincial referendum amounts to 3 million Euros; the public expenditure for the information publication must be added, which according to the director Pöder would amount to 300 thousand euros . Also in this session, the director Alessandro Urzì of the "Alto Adige nel cuore" list, a list linked to the center-right of Futuro e Libertà (an aggregation led by Gianfranco Fini then dissolved de facto in 2014) stated "that it would have been better if the the responsibility for deciding was assumed, to be then judged in the next elections ".
Participant Recruitment and Selection
According to the art. 18 of the Provincial Law n.11, 18/11/2005 "Popular initiative and referendum", all citizens registered in the electoral lists of a municipality of the province, who have the right to vote for the elections of the Provincial Council, have the right to participate in the referendum . Voting by correspondence is therefore also envisaged for those residing abroad and born in a municipality of the Province.
Methods and Tools Used
The referendum is a popular voting method regulated by law; in Italy it has been in the Constitution since 1948. Before that time plebiscites were organized, which differed from the referendum for the unregulated and instrumental activation of the will of the executive power.
Its activation can derive from a majority or minority will but with a minimum number of parliamentarians or advisers in favor of its calling. The classic methods of activation foresee procedures from below (through collections of signatures) or from above (through motions that emerged in elective assemblies); sometimes the referendum is promoted by the executives, as in the present case. The subjects requesting the referendum, through regulated procedures, in which specific commissions are convened to verify the legitimacy of the request and the formulation of the questions, formulate the question (s) to be submitted to the popular vote. Electoral ballots are set up with paper ballots on which the question and clear answers "Yes" or "No" are printed. In the case in question, instead of setting up the polling stations in schools, an online voting platform was set up, which could be accessed by entering the tax code and electoral card number, the document that certifies possession of citizenship and the right to vote. . In addition to their electronic devices, the voter could go to libraries or municipal URPs and ask for the assistance of operators for access through a public terminal.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
On 20/10/2015 the Board approved the bill containing the rules for the development of the Bolzano airport  and presented the strategic plan  to the Council.
The Provincial Council, having already resolved to call for the consultative referendum (11/6/15), sets the date of the referendum to be held on 12 June 2016.
In the session of 4 March 2016, with motion 569/16 of 10/2/16, the Green Group proposed the drafting of a bilingual information brochure, in which the two positions are illustrated in a balanced and broad manner. This is a 3-point proposal that is approved by a majority, with only two votes against and one abstention. For its drafting, a group of three advisers in favor of the development of the airport and three against, appointed by the Board of group leaders, is formed. The brochure will then be sent to all families 20 days before the referendum, as well as an online version made available on the Council's website. According to councilor Pöder, the cost of this information action would be around € 300,000 . The publication consists of 20 pages, 10 dedicated to Yes and the same number to No. The online version consists of two 10-page pdf brochures. The printed version combines the two downloadable versions in a single brochure, with a reversible cover, therefore equal views, by reversing the brochure; it is in color and features, in addition to text, numerous images, photos, infographics and diagrams. It makes use of rational arguments but also of emotional images (angry children who plug their ears and hold their noses with a large passenger plane on it in flight; a child with a model airplane in his hand, on his father's shoulders, taken from the bottom to top, both look towards the model in the air and the sky), short transcripts of interviews with the interviewee's name, photo and social role .
The spontaneous initiatives then follow one another throughout the spring period: assemblies, demonstrations with banners, debate in the local press and local television, external voting, distribution of gadgets and posting of propaganda posters.
46.7% of those entitled to vote will attend the referendum. 70.6% will vote against the bill, while 29.4% will vote in favor. The most accentuated result on the No is found in the municipalities of Bassa Atesina (the area most affected by the environmental impact) which recorded an average of 83% of those against the development law and a turnout of 60% . High opposition also expressed the Alta Val D'Isarco (80%), Val Pusteria (72%) and Val Venosta (77%) which are the three areas furthest from Bolzano, perhaps because they perceive less opportunity. also given the greater proximity to Innsbruck compared to other areas.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The declarations of the young (born 1971) president of the Province, in his first term, the high turnout that exceeded the quorum, the high public attention, made this consultative referendum a referendum with a high influence. The result is the exit of the Province from the Company ABD SpA, whose shares, 100% will be subject to public tender. If no purchaser appears, the company will be liquidated and the concession returned to ENAC (National Agency for Civil Aviation). There will be no extensions to the runway, not even the 30 meters that had been suspended but could be built and the service will remain limited to summer charters, some 30-seat scheduled flights if interested companies return, private flights of small aircraft. Other types of public transport will be enhanced: trains and buses . At the moment the agreement with ABD is confirmed for the whole of 2017, charter flights to Sardinia (used for the holidays of South Tyroleans) are in relative growth and the advisor has been appointed to evaluate the company and therefore its sale to any private individuals. .
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The referendum tool is a quick, reliable, engaging, very decisive tool on hot issues. When the parties of the majority, the leaders of the community, are authoritative and want to use it, inviting to vote, as Kompatscher did, unlike his predecessor, people participate. It is also useful to reconcile the differences in position within the parties, in geographical areas with different interests, advantages and disadvantages. The provincial scale shows, unlike what happened with the Del Rio law, the political dismantling of the provinces and the attempt to cancel them from the Constitution, which is a dimension of social, functional and balanced cohesion for the purposes of the debate on almost all the choices. strategic that concern a territorial community identifiable according to local configuration, landscape and environmental categories. However, the costs are still very high (around 20 Euro / voter), even if, from an interview with Lausch (Initiative for more democracy), referendums could not cost more than one coffee per voter if the procedures were regularized periodically, with more questions per session, as is the case in Switzerland.
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