The majority supports the pensioners’ protests, led by former MP Pavel Rupar, according to the results of a public opinion poll, even though the current authorities are doing everything in their power to relativise the nationwide protests as much as possible with the help of the media, which are beholden to them. But it seems that the slander aimed at the initiator of the Voice of the Pensioners initiative, who was the first to publicly problematise the fact that pensioners, the people who have worked all their lives and filled the state coffers, are being completely forgotten about, has not fallen on fertile ground. People feel very strongly that their quality of life has fallen significantly as a result of the government’s inactivity, and it is very difficult to convince them that this is not actually the case.
After the government cut everyone’s wages, despite knowing that we are facing a crisis, going to the shops every day has become a nightmare for many people. Many basic foods have become several times more expensive, despite Golob’s introduction of a basket of basic goods – a measure which, when it was announced, it was clear to everyone that it would not produce any results. Pensioners are finding this particularly difficult to cope with, as they have seen their pensions increase by only 5.2 percent in the face of high inflation. This increase makes it completely impossible, especially for those with the lowest pensions, to cover their costs of living, which are 20-25 percent higher, and also include the payment of supplementary insurance and the compulsory Radio-Television Slovenia contribution.
If the ruling party and the mainstream media tried to feign ignorance when the first nationwide protest of the pensioners was announced, they were quickly forced to face the music by a disgruntled crowd in the middle of Ljubljana, which was much bigger than anyone could have imagined. An even bigger crowd turned out for the second nationwide pensioners’ protest. In response, the ruling movement set up a seniors’ organisation and started trying to convince us that they actually care about pensioners, then delayed the implementation of the Long-Term Care Act, and Minister of Labour Luka Mesec admitted on the show “Target” (Tarča) that any discussion about pensions has been deliberately kept on hold!?
What people think is best revealed by the results of a public opinion poll conducted by Parsifal for Nova24TV between the 20th and the 23rd of March. When asked about their position on the pensioners’ protests led by Pavel Rupar, the majority (51.2 percent) said that they supported the protests, while 38.5 percent said they did not support the protests, and 10.3 percent were undecided.
Looking at the crossover between demographic and contextual variables, we can see that men in the 18-34 age group and those with primary and lower education are most in favour of protests, followed by those with vocational education. Those with high education or higher are in last place. Among those who remain undecided, the majority are women in the 18-34 age group and individuals with higher, tertiary or even higher education.
Third mass protest to happen on Friday to demand higher pensions
Even though the Freedom Movement party (Gibanje Svoboda) claims that caring for the elderly is their priority, this is clearly not the case in practice. Instead of the authorities listening to, among others, the Institute of the 1st of October, which is in contact with people who are struggling to survive, we are witnessing statements by the President of the Republic about how the issue is being politicised. It is just the way things are in this country, where only certain NGOs are listened to, and they have helped Robert Golob’s government to power quite ‘accidentally’. They even meet with the rulers and help write the laws. In the absence of dialogue and in the absence of the even more desperately needed measures, we are looking forward to the third nationwide protest, which will happen on Friday, the 31st of March, at 3 p.m., in Ljubljana’s Republic Square. Golob will be called upon for a conversation about higher pensions and to resign as Prime Minister. The dissatisfaction with his government’s inaction is high, and with new taxes being announced, including a property tax, the dissatisfaction is all the greater. All the current government keeps talking about are timelines, which are not of much help to an ordinary citizen.
General demographic data on the participants in the survey
The survey was conducted between the 20th of March and the 23rd of March 2023, and it included 730 respondents, of which 49.9 percent were women. The average age of the participants is 53.8 years, and the standard deviation is 16.7 years. The majority of the respondents are from the oldest age group (48.3 percent), a slightly smaller share of participants belongs to the middle age group (32.8 percent), and the smallest number of respondents is from the youngest age group (18.8 percent). The majority of the respondents have completed high school (34.3 percent), followed by those with completed high education or higher (28.5 percent), 21.8 percent of respondents have finished vocational school, and 15.4 percent have either completed or have not completed primary school. The majority of the respondents currently reside in a small village or hamlet (53.3 percent), followed by those who live in the city (30.9 percent) or a smaller town (15.7 percent). Most of the respondents are from Central Slovenia (25.7 percent), followed by the Podravska (15.8 percent) and Savinjska (12.8 percent) region.