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A referendum in Güssing on the fate of 50 million euros

A referendum in Güssing on the fate of 50 million euros

The citizens of Güssing, Austria will choose the new cultural centre – Güssing Castle or the KUZ

This week, on 27 June, Güssing, an Austrian town will hold a referendum on where to spend 55 million euros relegated for culture. The two options: A gorgeous 12th-century castle or the Culture centre (KUZ). Despite the Güssing municipality providing a very comprehensive information package for the referendum, different factions in the City Council have conflicting opinions on the way forward.

The state of Burgenland is committed to investing heavily in a modern cultural and event location in Güssing, however, people seem to be genuinely split about where exactly the money should go. The Social Democratic Party of Austria, currently governing the city, seems to have no official pick.

Without a doubt, this had a balancing effect on the government-sponsored informational campaign. Just about 24,000 people will be eligible to vote in the coming referendum and every single one of them will receive a folder filled with relevant information and the proposed expansion plans.

The question on the ballot reads something like this:

“How should the state of Burgenland invest in the municipality of Güssing?:

  • In the expansion of Güssing Castle
  • In the modernisation of the existing cultural centre”

Well, should it?

Member of the state parliament Wolfgang Spitzmüller (Greens) was in favour of focusing on the KUZ, for example. His concern stems from the fact that Güssing Castle may suffer severe historical and ecological damage from the reconstruction. At the same, investing in the KUZ would be much cheaper, easier and faster, when compared to the alternative.

The Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), on the other hand, is in favour of renovating the castle, as it has multigeneration appeal and is a major landmark.

Yet, the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) of Burgenland believes that "Güssing needs both - castle and cultural centre. We don't want an 'either or', but rather a 'both and'” - as per the words of the Vice Mayor of Güssing Alois Mondschein. He called for the cultural centre to be expanded by 50 million euros and the castle to be renovated at the same time.

A ballot slip with two crosses in the referendum will, however, will be considered invalid.

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