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    Prof. Dr. Josef Schöchl new member of the IRE-Board

    Board approves extension:
    The Institute of the Regions of Europe is pleased to announce that at the board meeting on 13 February 2013, the enlargement of the board of the institute to four persons was decided. This paved the way for Prof. Dr. Josef Schöchl, who has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute since 2016, to being admitted to the Board of Directors as a new member.

    The new IRE board: Dr. Ing. Helmut Falschlehner, Univ. Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger, dr. Stefan Eder and Prof. dr. Josef Schöchl (from left to right)

    Prof. Dr. Schöchl was born in Salzburg and studied veterinary medicine and political science between 1978 and 1985. In 1986 he promovated as Dr. med. vet. Until 1989 he worked as a practical veterinarian and official veterinarian at the Veterinary Office of the City of Salzburg. In 1990 he was appointed official veterinarian at the Office of the Salzburg Provincial Government and 1994 State Veterinary Director. He then became a veterinarian for food in 1995.

    Between 2004 and 2008 he was community party chairman in Eugendorf and 2004-2009 local council. Between 2006 and 2008, he also held the function of Deputy District Party Chairman of the ÖVP Flachgau and was elected in 2008 to the district party chairman. Since 2009 Prof. Dr. Schöchl is Member of the Salzburg Parliament and in 2018 briefly held the post of President of the Landtag.

    Representatives of regions and municipalities discuss about declaration on regional future of EU

    Salzburg delegation at EU Future Summit in Bucharest:
    The 8th European Summit of Regions and Cities, held in Bucharest on 14 and 15 March, brought together local, regional, national and EU decision-makers from across Europe to discuss the future of the European Union. As delegation from Salzburg, Brigitta Pallauf and Franz Schausberger represented the interests of the region there.
    President of the Salzburg Parliament Brigitta Pallauf with Franz Schausberger at the EU Regional Summit in Bucharest
    More than 500 regional and local politicians took the opportunity to discuss the Committee of Regions (CoR) statement on the future of the EU, which has to include regions and cities more. The declaration is intended to essentially renew Europe and it stresses the fundamental importance of regions and cities in the European Union. This is intended to contribute to the CoR’s Strategic Agenda 2019-2024 on the “Future of Europe”. On 9 May 2019, the Declaration will be presented to the leaders of the EU institutions and Heads of State and Government on occasion of their informal Council in Sibiu, Romania.
    Franz Schausberger noted that the main problem in implementing the principle of subsidiary is the diversity of regions and municipalities. This would be even intensified by an extension of the EU to the Western Balkan regions, as they are strongly centralistic in their organization. There had been no improvement in the position of the regions and municipalities under the Treaty of Lisbon, which rests with both the Member States and the EU itself. The trend towards autocratic governments in the EU is linked to centralization. This applies also and especially to Romania.
    Franz Schausberger introduced Austria as an example of a balance between local, regional and national competences. “In the Austrian system, both the regions and the communities are strong,” said Schausberger, who hopes that other countries would go in a similar direction. The problem is that in many countries only “a small part of the EU funding can be accessed because the mayors of small communities are for the most part unable to create good EU projects.”
    Aleksandra Dulkiewicz (Mayor of Gdańsk), CoR Vice-President Markku Markkula, Romanian President Klaus Joannis, CoR President Karl-Heinz Lambertz present the statement of the CoR (from left to right)
    The Declaration calls on the EU to strengthen its regions and cities and engage citizens more. With modern challenges such as climate change or globalization, the EU must quickly agree on ambitious plans for the future. Ultimately, this can only be achieved with greater decentralization.

    Exchange of views with President Željka Cvijanović on the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina

    Renewed meeting with President of Republika Srpska:
    For an exchange of views on the current political situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Franz Schausberger met with the President of the Republika Srpska, Željka Cvijanović. Although more than five months have passed since the elections in early October 2018, no government has yet been formed at the state level. President Cvijanović was confident that the formation of the government in Bosnia-Herzegovina was well on its way. Difficult is the formation of a government in the BiH Federation and in some cantons.

    Franz Schausberger with President Željka Cvijanović 

    Franz Schausberger gives guest lecture at the University of Economics Bucharest

    Chairman of IRE Board receives invitation:
    An invitation to give a lecture at the University of Economics Bucharest was given to Franz Schausberger by the Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration of the University of Economics Bucharest, Tănase Stamule (pictured left). The Bucharest University of Economics was founded in 1913 by the Romanian King Carol I, consists of 10 faculties and has about 22,000 students.
    Franz Schausberger together with Tănase Stamule (right and left). In the middle Cristian Macedonschi, city council of the German minority in the city of Brasov.

    Romanian County Alba is newest IRE member

    IRE family is growing:
    The Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) is pleased to announce the newest member of the IRE-network: Alba County. It is a district located in Central-Western Romania and is one of the 16 counties forming the Romanian Centru development region, the historical region of Transylvania. With its total area of 6,242 km², 59% of which is occupied by mountains, Alba County is one of the most historically significant areas of Transylvania and has always been at the heart of the regional, political, religious and cultural life of the region.
    Traces of human settlements in the region date back to the Neolithic period, where the intermontane valleys of the region hosted many communities. Signs of this are still visible today, as in the prestigious Roman archaeologic site of Alba Iulia.

    City of Alba Iulia, Roman archaeological site

    Thanks to its central position in Eastern Europe, the county played a crucial role, particularly in the 18th century, when the Alba Carolina citadel was reinforced and turned into the fortified city of Alba Iulia, dedicated to Emperor Charles VI of Habsburg. Alba Iulia is now capital of the Alba County, and with a population of 66.400 inhabitants, it is the 33rd most populous city in Romania.

    Alba Iulia, aerial view with fortress 
    The strongest economic sectors in Alba County are the food industry (with corn growing in the south and wheat in the northern areas) and mineral ore mining. In particular, metals (gold, silver, copper and mercury), salt, marble and granite come from the region. Other important production areas are machinery, the textile and paper industry, and leather and wood production.

    Abrud, countryside in the Alba County


    ÖVP achieves extraordinary success in municipal elections in Salzburg

    Conservative shift in Salzburg:
    On Sunday, March 10, were held the municipal council and mayoral elections for Salzburg. In the city of Salzburg, standing for election was the current mayor, Harald Preuner, as well as all of the members of the municipal council. Harald Preuner has served in the role of mayor since 2017. 

    There was a low voter turnout of just 48%. The ÖVP, party of Mayor Preuner, won a large majority with 36,7% of the votes. With this percentage they doubled their seats in the municipal council, going from 8 seats to 16 seats. The SPÖ came in with just under 27%, causing them to lose four seats in the municipal council. The Green party came in third place, with around 15% of the votes. 

     Results of the municipal elections in the city of Salzburg
    The results of the election are significant. This is the first time since 1945 that the ÖVP is the strongest party in the municipal council of Salzburg. It is also the first time in several decades that the KPÖ has obtained a seat in the municipal council.

    The mayoral race will continue in a runoff between Harald Preuner (ÖVP) and Bernhard Auinger (SPÖ) that will take place on March 24. They respectively obtained around 40% and 30% of the votes in the original election. 

    SPÖ candidate Bernhard Auinger with Harrald Preuner, the candidate of the ÖVP (Source: APA/Barbara Gindl)

    Throughout much of the rest of the state the ÖVP gained as well. In 90 out of Salzburg’s 119 municipalities the ÖVP won the position of mayor. The SPÖ has 13 mayor positions. There will also be several runoff elections. 
    Results of the municipal elections in the whole of Land Salzburg and mayors per party
    In Lungau the ÖVP won several mayoral seats that had previously been held by the SPÖ. In Pongau an ÖVP mayor won in 18 of 25 municipalities. However, in Radstadt, an FPÖ mayor was elected, the first in Salzburg since 2004. In Straßwalchen in Flachgau there was a surprise. Although the current Mayor was ÖVP, the ÖVP did not make it into the mayoral runoff election. Also, in Nußdorf am Haunsberg, for the first time a woman has become mayor. In Pinzgau, in Zell am See, there is going to be a close runoff election between the SPÖ and the ÖVP, with each party winning around 40% of the vote this past Sunday. Although the ÖVP had the majority, they lost a bit on Sunday and the SPÖ gained. 

    Intern presents research paper on territorial administrative reforms in Albania

    Vilma Beqa finishes internship at IRE:

    Intern Vilma Beqa with IRE Chairman Dr. Franz Schausberger
    The Albanian student Vilma Beqa has successfully completed her internship at the IRE and, on Monday 11 March, has presented her research paper on the territorial administrative reforms and the new restructuring of the regions in Albania. We congratulate her for concluding the IRE internship programme and we wish her the best for her future!

    Separatist Lega Nord also successful in Southern and Central Italy

    Latest regional elections in Italy show trend:
    The Italian regional elections that took place in the regions of Abruzzo on 10 February 2019 and in Sardinia on 24 February 2019 confirm the rapid growth of the right-wing populist Lega party. The results of the two regional elections are not only an expression of regional political preferences, but also a reflection of the current political situation in Italy as a whole. 
    In the 2018 national election, 32,7% of the Italians voted for the anti-establishment party Movimento Cinque Stelle and 17.4% voted for the right-wing Lega. Together they formed a government coalition. Since its founding in 1991, the Lega has been pursuing the independence of Northern Italy as its main objective. Only for the national elections last year, this goal was abandoned and the party was renamed from Lega Nord (in English: Northern League) to Lega. Since then, the popularity of the party among the voters in Italy is growing. This is mainly due to party leader Matteo Salvini, who has also managed to gain support in the southern regions of Italy, where the Lega had never played a role due to their former secessionist stance.

    Supporters of the right-wing League party attend a rally in Rome, Italy, December 8, 2018.
    Source: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

    Salvini’s personal success is based on a very intense social media campaign, paired with his convincing ideas of “Italy first” and on the topics of national security and sovereignty from the EU. This has made him the ideological leader of the entire political centre-right spectrum in Italy, by what nowadays he plays a central role in the domestic political dynamics of the country, as the regional elections in Abruzzo and Sardinia show.


    Right-wing candidate Marsilio becomes new president of Abruzzo

    Right-hand shift in regional elections in Abruzzo:
    In the context of the overall political Situation in Italy, the election of Marco Marsilio from the party Fratelli d’Italia at the regional election in Abruzzo on the 10th of February can be read as a real victory of the extreme right. Fratelli d’Italia is a small extreme-right party, which barely passed the electoral threshold of 3% at the parliamentary election of 2018, gaining 4,3% of votes, for a total number of 19 seats in the Italian Parliament. For this small party, having one of its politicians as President of the Region is an extraordinary success.Last month the Senator Marsilio, one of the main contributors of the development of this party, was elected new President of the Region Abruzzo with 48,03% of the votes, beating the opponent of the centre-left coalition, Giovanni Legnini (31,28%) and Sara Marcozzi of M5S (20,20%). With 6.44% of the vote, in this election Fratelli d’Italia doubled the result of 2.90% from five years ago.

    The results of the regional elections of Abruzzo

    The candidate Marco Marsilio was chosen not only because of the preferences of his party, but mainly because of the support of a coalition with the Lega. In fact, the votes in the center-right list totaled 299,949, of which 165,008 (more than a half) were achieved by the Lega. In these regional elections this party alone received 27.53% of the total votes.

    The leaders of the centre-right coalition in the Abruzzo regional election. In the picture (from left to right): Matteo Salvini (Lega), Marco Marsilio (top candidate FdI), Giorgia Meloni (presidente FdI) and Silvio Berlusconi (Forza Italia); Source: Ansa


    Separatist Lega Nord also successful in Southern and Central Italy

    Success of the Lega continues:
    At the Sardinian regional election of the 24th of February, the centre-right coalition with its regional president candidate Christian Solinas won, obtaining almost half of the votes (47.8%), while the centre-left candidate Massimo Zedda came second (32,93%) and Francesco Desogus from M5S third with 11,18% of the votes. It was the first time ever that both parties Lega and Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) participated in a regional election in Sardinia.

    The results of the regional election in Sardinia
    While in the national elections of 2018, the M5S gained 42,5% of votes, being it the first and most voted party in the region, this time the M5S has not gained much support, receiving only 9,90% of the preferences. Among other things, the movement is not a classic party and has no clear party line and political position. Therefore, it has lost the electorate’s approval and thus paved the way for the rise of Lega and its leader Matteo Salvini.Following an electoral agreement for the 2018 parliamentary elections between the Lega and the Partito d’Azione Sardo, (PSd’Az), a party that pursues the goal of an independent Sardinia since 1921, the right-wing Candidate Christian Solinas (PSd’Az) was elected Italian Senator with the League’s support, before in November, he got top candidate for the center-right coalition at the tegional elections. As for the election in Abruzzo, the coalition won over the centre-left and the M5S, gaining over 47% of the votes.

     Top candidate Christian Solinas (PSd’AZ) and Matteo Salvini (Lega) holding together the Sardinian flag in Poetto (Cagliari); Source: LaPresse
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