Pensioners' rally morphs into anti-government protest
The third rally by pensioners organised by a civil society group spearheaded by former Democrats MP Pavel Rupar turned into a fully-fledged anti-government protest on 31 March as pensioners demanded that the government resign and a snap election be held.
Organised by the civil initiative Voice of Pensioners and its offshoot 1 October Institute, whose head is Rupar, the rally took to the streets of the capital and culminated in Republic Square, in front of Parliament House. Several thousand people attended.
First held on 1 February, the day after pensions rose significantly, as a rally for higher pensions, the protest has now become an anti-government manifestation as Rupar welcomed everyone fed up with the current government ten months into its term.
"Facts show that we are hurtling towards bankruptcy," he said, urging the government to find the extra millions it wants to spend "in its own ranks" and "let the poor alone".
The 1 October Institute also demands to be included in negotiations for higher pensions and for Janez Sušnik, head of the Union of Pensioners' Associations, to be dropped out of them, because he did not back the rally organisers' demand for a 20% pension rise.
Rupar vowed that the rallies will continue until the demands are fulfilled as he warned that the government would continue to adopt measures that hurt pensioners.
He is also disappointed with President Nataša Pirc Musar since she has not responded to his initiative's appeal to advocate their cause.
Addressing the president, he said that the protesters were not influenced by any party and that they refused the leftist-rightist divide, and that they were held together only by "hardship and struggle and the proud Slovenian heart".
Official representatives of pensioners have distanced themselves from the rallies because of the organisers' close links to the Democrats, the largest opposition party, and several commentators have framed the protests as part of a strong multi-pronged push by the Democrats to chip away at the government.