Plebiscite Day is a public holiday that’s observed annually on the 10th of October in the southern Austrian region known as Carinthia. This region is in the eastern Alps and encompasses Grossglockner, Austria’s highest mountain.
This holiday commemorates the 1920 Carinthian plebiscite that was held in the area that was predominantly settled by Carinthian Slovenes. This plebiscite determined the final southern border between Austria, and the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Since this is a public holiday, it’s a day off for the general public, and non-essential government offices, schools, and businesses are closed.
The History Of Plebiscite Day
When Austria-Hungary and the ruling House of Habsburg were defeated during WWI, several new states arose in what was its former territory. One of these was the State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs which was created during the final days of the war.
However, determination of the borders of these various states wasn’t always easy and this led to conflict in the region. On September 19th, 1919, the Treaty of Saint-Germain with the Republic of Austria was supposed to have determined the Austrian-Yugoslav border.
It asserted that some parts of Carinthia should be incorporated into the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes and that the larger southeastern Carinthia area down towards the Klagenfurt Basin should be determined by a vote, also known as a plebiscite.
On October 10th, approximately 22,000 votes were cast in favor of adhering to Austria and 15,200 votes were cast in favor of annexation by the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. On November 18, 1920, the Carinthian Plebiscite region was placed under the Austrian administration. Since that day, the 10th of October has been celebrated as Plebiscite Day in the region.
Observing Plebiscite Day In Carinthia, Austria
This holiday is observed as a public day, so people have the day off and many institutions are closed. It’s also a day that’s observed with special exhibitions, official services, and other events that highlight this day’s importance in the history of the region.