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Thousands Of Pensioners Demand The Resignation Of Robert Golob’s Government

On Friday, another pensioners’ rally took place in the centre of Ljubljana, where participants demanded more decent pensions. The pensioners gathered in Republic Square, where the weather cleared up. Pavel Rupar, the leader of the protest movement, estimated that 23 thousand pensioners had gathered to demand a more decent life. This was the 9th big rally for higher and fairer pensions organised by the 1st of October Institute (Inštitut 1. oktober). The Association claims that pensioners’ rights have not improved – in fact, they believe the situation has become even worse.

Just like last time, the rally started with a walk through the centre of Ljubljana, and the pensioners then headed to the Government Palace, where they then chanted: “Thieves, thieves, thieves.” In front of the Government Palace, pensioners expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s latest announcements on the harmonisation of pensions.

Robert Golob, when you closed the door on pensioners, you stayed on the wrong side. It is time to stop destroying Slovenia and the lives of pensioners. Start preparing for your departure,” Rupar said under Golob’s office.

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They pensioners also stopped briefly in front of the Slovenian National Drama Theatre of Ljubljana, where they chanted, “Down with the government! Down with the government!” They then continued on past the Ursuline Church and Congress Square towards the National Assembly and Republic Square. The march was accompanied by accordion and Bolero music – and many flags. Pavel Rupar was leading the march.

They soon arrived in front of the National Assembly.

Andrej Peterle, the representative of the 1st October Institute, was the first speaker at the rally. He said that pensioners were uniting to fight for their rights. “We have come together because we are dissatisfied with the state of the country. We are calling attention to the poor living conditions of pensioners and to the growing number of people every day who can no longer afford even the basic costs of living,” he told the gathering. Voices from the crowd echoed his words. He also welcomed the farmers present at the protest and sent his regards to pensioners who were unable to attend. “We are fighting for them, too,” he shouted, announcing that they would persevere until the injustice was righted and dignity restored. He then called on those present to remember with a round of applause all those suffering from cancer in hospitals.

The Slovenian anthem was then played in Republic Square. Pavel Rupar also sang to the music.

The rally’s keynote speaker, Dr Tina Bergant, then took to the microphone. “Winter is coming. Winter can be beautiful. With the white snow crunching underfoot and with fluffy snowflakes flying under blue skies. It can be harsh and pinch our cheeks, but then shine bright and strong on a crystal clear night with stars. But this year has started differently. It is dark and cold. Yesterday, the first snowflakes fell in Ljubljana. Not fluffy and crystalline, but wet and heavy. They soaked everything and filled us with unpleasant dampness and cold, the kind of cold that reaches to the heart,” she began her speech in a more poetic style.

“But we are not giving up. We are here today!” she said. She said that those gathered were not a hallucination of the rulers, but people who care. “We want a better life for all of us. For some, it is really hard. The general rising of prices, when people have to save every cent, close radiators and dress warmly to save money. The aftermath of the floods, the buildings that have still not been renovated and are bringing despair among us. People who live by the rivers and look anxiously at that grey-brown river, and when the alarms sound again… we persevere, and we stay.”

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She mentioned the government’s harmonisation of pensions and the desire of the authorities to be applauded by pensioners for this. However, this is a legal obligation for the government, so she said, “No, we cannot applaud them for something that they are required to do.” She also said that they cannot applaud them because inflation is high, which they all feel at the end of the month. She also spoke about the desperate situation in Slovenian healthcare. Many people are still without a personal doctor, and waiting times are getting longer. She also spoke about the latest move by the Minister of Health, who would like to order forced labour for all healthcare workers.

Igor Černoga, another representative of the 1st of October Institute, then took to the microphone. “The standard of living of most pensioners has fallen to such an extent that some cannot afford even the basic necessities of life. What kind of country are we living in? One where you don’t know who drinks and who pays. But we know very well who is drinking and who is paying for all this. The comrades who feed and fatten themselves at our expense have been at the helm in one way or another for 80 years. That is why the situation is what it is.”

“We must not forget their parasites in the coalition, in NGOs, in the national media outlet RTV, in the public education system, and in the bad, the worse public administration,” he said, adding that when pensioners demand a modest increase in pensions or at least a fair adjustment, they are ignored. Černoga has produced a calculation to show that a pensioner would receive a much better pension if he or she were to safely save money by themselves, compared to the current pension system, which, for most, produces a meagre pension at best.

The next speaker was Jožica Voler from Luče. In Luče, the floods caused a lot of damage. “I come as a voice crying out in the wilderness to raise my voice for all the injustices that are being done to the Slovenian people in our time. Dear Mr Robert Golob and all his supporters. Dear President Nataša Pirc Musar, we are your people gathered here! Honest, hard-working, good Slovenians, who have been, and many of us still are today, looking after the welfare of Slovenians, which you are now stealing from us –more and more every day,” she said angrily.

She also spoke about the gender theory, to which the current government has opened the door wide. “I am a mother of four children, and I am not parent number 1. My husband is not parent number 2. Our children are not numbers 1 to 4, but we all have beautiful Slovenian names. My name is Jožica, my husband’s name is Igor. I am telling you loud and clear, there are only two sexes, male and female. But you are writing in the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia that there are more genders. We all know people with different orientations. We love them and respect them, but the 1 percent of the LGBT agenda wants to destroy the family heart we have known for millennia with your help,” she said.

She expressed her disapproval of children in primary schools being asked to decide which gender they are: “You will create mental patients out of them,” she claimed. She also said that she was against abortion, which kills children as if they are just a collection of cells, and against euthanasia, which kills people under the pretext of caring for the sick, instead of giving them decent pensions and home care.

The last speaker at the rally was Pavel Rupar. “We have come to a time when we need to think very hard about how to get to the New Year. And then, how to move forward over the winter. Yesterday, you received a shameful pittance of between 7 and 15 euros for a whole month, enough for maybe a little more than three kilos of bread. Shame, Mr Golob, shame,” he exclaimed.

“There are more of us here today than at the 8th rally. 23 thousand of us. Thank you all for coming. There are people here with good hearts who want a sufficient and satisfactory life for everyone,” he said.

“I am telling all of you in the National Assembly, on Gregorčičeva Street, and to the President, this strength comes from the heart. This strength comes from desire, this strength comes from the situation into which you have pushed us, pensioners, and this situation is the reflection of our gathering. There will be more of us!” he exclaimed. He continued in an energetic tone, asking the gathering why Slovenian songs are sung, and Slovenian flags are waved at rallies attended by tens of thousands of people. He answered, “Because we fight with our hearts for our rights, because this is Slovenia, and because we are citizens and people who live for this country. That is also why we are here.”

He reminded those gathered at the square of all those who struggle to wake up every day because they do not know whether they will be able to pay the care fees in nursing homes. He also said, “How much longer? When will the Slovenian pensioner have enough income to be able to pay for his or her own care in a retirement home? We demand it!”

“Mr Golob, everyone in the government, the President of the country, the Speaker of the National Assembly, you have closed the door to any conversation for us pensioners. We would have done nothing to you, we would not have reproached you, we would only have demanded what is our due. You have closed this door to us, but you have made a mistake somewhere. So, on the other hand, you have closed another door. You have thrown yourselves out. We just need time, a little time, and then you will be the ones left on the road, you will have to stay where you have sent us. You won’t last long,” he announced.

The event continued with the national song “Slovenia, whence thy beauty?”. Rupar then welcomed all his fellow citizens from the former Yugoslav republics. He invited Suad Muslimović to the microphone. He began by saying that he had come to Slovenia from Bosnia. “We have families here, we are friends, and I only wish that we were better off than we are. I am sure that it cannot be as bad as it is now for much longer,” he said.

He recalled the disgraceful pension supplement that the government has given to pensioners: “For a pension of 500 euros, that supplement equals two kilos of bread. I would like to tell you that there are more and more pensioners who, in the face of such allowances, which make a mockery of us all, are also contemplating a tragic end.”

“I told you that I come from the former Yugoslavia, which was plunged into a fratricidal murderous war by the policies of communism at that time, and those same policies of communism sowed hatred, poverty and death. Many were here at the time of independence. Some speculated on citizenship, and they are living better today than those of us who were with you when Slovenia became independent. Yet they have erected a monument to them. There are only a few tens of thousands of such people, but here we are, people who considered Slovenia our motherland and our homeland, who helped build it in style with the mother nation, who listened to the insults, but who also hoped that we were on the right path to a decent life,” he recalled.

He went on to say that after two years of Robert Golob’s government, many people wonder whether he might not be normal anymore. “We are barely making a decent living here,” he said, adding that no one was left behind on pensions like those from the “former Yugoslavia.” They were humble workers on minimum wages, but today, they can barely survive from month to month.

“At all the rallies so far, we have united as burnt, humiliated, disappointed, without decent pensions, hard-working and tolerant people who deserve their share of the Slovenian sun. The 1st of October Institute and the emerging Voice of Pensioners party, under the leadership of Mr Pavel Rupar, welcome us with open arms and open hearts. Everyone is welcome to participate, without exception. Serbans, Croatians, Bosnians, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Lale from Vojvodina, Kosovars, Albanians, Roma and everyone, regardless of religion or political affiliation,” he was clear.

The more of us gather, the stronger we will be, he said. He spoke of the many young people who have been misled by the ideology of the far left, fed by the government with taxpayers’ money.

“Dear rulers, today you can do whatever you want, but you will not be doing it for as long as you want. You won’t last much longer! Our time is coming!” he shouted.

Ž. K.

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