The atmosphere in the large meeting room of the UDC headquarters in Brennerstrasse in Bolzano is that of a funeral. The reporters are unusually quiet as they wait for Philipp Achammer to appear. Less than 90 minutes earlier, the party’s press office had surprisingly announced a press conference by the UDC president.
So it is clear that something is about to happen. It has already been leaked in advance that Governor Arno Kompatscher has also arrived at the UDC headquarters. When both UDC politicians enter the meeting room at 2:33 pm, the tension is palpable.
It is Philipp Achammer who tries to defuse the situation right at the beginning with a rather irreverent remark. “I must disappoint anyone who thinks that I will announce my resignation as party president here today“, the president of the UDC opens his statement.
What follows is a mixture of self defense and attack.
The result: four senior UDC officials who must resign: Provincial Councilor Thomas Widmann, UDC Vice-President Karl Zeller, Bolzano District President Christoph Perathoner and UDC spokesperson Gert Lanz. It is an earthquake under the edelweiss that will produce a few more aftershocks in the coming days and weeks.
It is an earthquake under the edelweiss that will produce a few more aftershocks in the coming days and weeks.
Because one thing becomes clear to the South Tyrolean press gathered this afternoon. With Philipp Achammer and Arno Kompatscher, there are no lovers here on the podium, but a community of convenience, which has completely different views on the central issues of the clarification of the SAD scandal and now has the lowest common denominator.
This joint press conference is not a closing of ranks, but a formal act in which one nobly claims to respect the competencies of the other.
Philip Achammer he uses most of his speech to reaffirm his position in this affair. Above all, he protests against the claim that he does not want to reveal the SAD scandal, but to cover it up. “I will defend myself against these accusations in the strongest possible terms “., says Philipp Achammer. His reasoning: from the beginning he supported drastic measures within the UDC.
“The party leader only obeys the law. “Achammer then explained his hearing Prosecutor Igor Secco nine weeks ago. According to the UDC president, he confirmed in the presence of a second colleague, “that there are great doubts as to whether the wiretaps can be published “. This afternoon Philipp Achammer is doing what he and his newspaper have been doing for two months: he stylizes between the lines the publication of the book “Freunde im Edelweiss” as an illegal act and therefore the People’s Party as a victim. The problem is not the message, but the bearers of the message.
This attitude becomes evident when Philipp Achammer talks about two of his three deputies as president of the UDC. He eloquently explains what injustices the author of these lines and his co-author of his deputy Angelika Wiedmer have committed by publishing the conversations in which Ingemar Gatterer, Martin Alber and Mariano Vettori talk about paying for Wiedmer’s election campaign. “I will vigorously defend Angelika Wiedmer “, Achammer says, “who also personally added this story.”
Soon after, the UDC president then Karl Zeller close to resigning as SVP vice president. The reason for this (although not explicitly mentioned) is probably mainly a suspicion that for months it was also sold as a fact by the media company Athesia – without there being even concrete proof of this. Zeller passed the wiretaps to the authors of the book. “Vice President Karl Zeller should go“, says the president of the UDC,”because I am convinced that with him there are mergers and various conflicts of interest“.
The fact that the UDC president informed his deputy that he was expelled in front of the assembled press without hearing them in advance about the allegations – as happened to all the other people concerned – should be a clear violation of the code of honor that Achammer himself drafted and on which the press conference still praises.
Philipp Achammer does not even seem to realize this absurd imbalance in relations with his two deputies. This also clarifies which rotation course the UDC president currently finds.
The deselection announced
The “first step” from which Philipp Achammer announced on this day is the retirement Cristoforo Perathoner as president of the SVP district of Bolzano city and countryside. Achammer explains that he has already talked to Perathoner about it. Just two weeks ago the Val Gardena lawyer announced in a detailed written statement that he wanted to run for re-election in May.
Shortly thereafter, the president placed his rod in his faction leader’s window. It is the announced deselection of Gert Lanz, without Philipp Achammer getting his hands dirty. “I asked Gert Lanz to clarify whether he still had a majority in the parliamentary group“, says the president of the UDC.
Achammer knows the answer very well. Anyone who witnessed the attacks on Lanz at the parliamentary group meeting last week knows that the incumbent SVP parliamentary group spokesperson won’t get even a handful of votes in a vote of confidence. The employee of the UDC Maddalena Amhof she has already proposed herself as the new spokesperson for the parliamentary group of the UDC.
Arno Kompatscher announced what was arguably the most politically relevant decision for Philipp Achammer that day. “The governor will talk about the consequences in the state government. “says Achhammer. Explained a little later Arno Kompatscher then that “asked for the resignation of regional councilor Thomas Widmann”. “All trust has been lost. “the governor justifies this drastic step.
Kompatscher explains that he informed Widmann of this solution in a personal conversation and in the presence of Philipp Achammer before the press conference. However, it is also clear from Kompatscher’s statements that Widmann will not resign voluntarily. Because Arno Kompatscher also says: “In any case, I will withdraw all powers from Thomas Widmann“.
Kompatscher thanked Widmann for his cooperation and especially for his work during the pandemic. A short time later, Philipp Achammer also expressed his gratitude.
At the same time, the UDC president makes an interesting specification. The Widmann case had already been cleared for the party and the state governor had decided to dismiss the state health council.
It’s not just Achammer smoked herring in front of the Athesia media company Thomas Widman it loses its most important ally in the state government, but also a clear departure from the state governor.
Less than 20 minutes passed before Philipp Achammer and Arno Kompatscher left the meeting room. In front of the bewildered crowd of the press. There are no questions on this day.
Because then it would have become even more evident that friendship at the top of Edelweiss has never been as fragile as it is today.