At the 7th rally of retirees organised by the initiative Voice of Retirees and the Institute 1st October on 6th September , several thousand people gathered in Republic Square in Ljubljana. This rally, like the previous ones, featured Slovenian music, and Slovenian flags waved in the air. Once again, none of the government officials or representatives of state institutions responded to the organisers’ invitation.
The retirees and their demands for higher pensions were once again ignored by Nataša Pirc Musar, Robert Golob, Urška Klakočar Zupančič, and even Peter Svetina, the Human Rights Ombudsman, was absent. However, there was a provocation at the rally, which ultimately failed for the provocateurs.
It appears that the police were aware of the intentions, as they were equipped accordingly, although it was unnecessary. “With equipment like RoboCops. Against retirees,” noted the well-known journalist and editor Jože Biščak on the X network.
Igor Černoga, one of the leaders in the Institute 1st October, presented a proposal for a law on emergency, solidarity supplements, which would at least alleviate the current difficult situation regarding pensions. Rupar announced that they would submit it to the National Assembly. They are also preparing other laws related to retirees. The law on the extraordinary increase in pensions was submitted with citizens’ signatures in the spring, but it is still pending with Urška Klakočar Zupančič, the President of the National Assembly.
The rally began with a prayer for all the sick, cancer patients, and those suffering in hospitals, followed by the Slovenian national anthem.
Pavel Rupar then read a welcoming letter from Austrian Carinthian Slovenes, expressing the desire of the Institute 1st October or the initiative For Pensioners, for the Slovenian ruling authorities to follow the Austrian example. A delegation from Croatia also attended the protest, and they were addressed by Dragica Trobentaš, the president of the Croatian association.
A significant number of retirees from flood-affected areas also participated in the rally. For instance, many participants from the Luče area had to walk to the buses.
The rally also had a charitable aspect. Andrej Peterle, the vice president of the Institute 1st October, presented a charity campaign that they have been conducting since the floods. He mentioned that they have currently collected 17 new washing machines, which they will donate to retirees who have lost everything. Additionally, one washing machine was already delivered last week.
The rally participants were also addressed by Dr Tina Bergant, a physician, who pointed out the controversial adoption of the euthanasia law and emphasised, “I am sorry that retirees have to fight for their rights. We demand that the government works in the best interests of all citizens.”
Public television, TV Slovenia, under its new leadership, banned the broadcast of the protest. Dr Bergant mentioned that even if the protesters are not seen on public television, they can be heard very well in Ljubljana. “Just like hearing the roar of a lion, even from a few kilometres away”. She emphasised that young people must also join the protests. “The time is now! The upcoming autumn will be challenging for everyone, given the inability of the ruling party to manage finances,” she emphasised.
Pavel Rupar called on all attendees to stop paying the RTV subscription fee. He said, “Let’s stop paying the RTV subscription! Do not be afraid of them! The first reminder, nothing happens, the second reminder, nothing happens, when it comes to enforcement, then pay. Put the bills aside for six months. Then they will not be able to finance themselves!”
The rally lasted from 15:00 to 16:20. Rupar stated that there were more than 10,000 participants, with the majority of buses coming from flood-affected areas (Savinja and Koroška regions).
The demands of retirees for higher pensions clearly bothered Ljubljana’s mayor and the current government’s chief, Zoran Janković. He fenced off a section of Republic Square, as a tennis tournament will take place in Ljubljana from September 11th to 17th, and Janković took action a week earlier to secure the area. They also quickly set up tents.
The next rally is scheduled for October.
By: M. D. (Moja Dolenjska)