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January 20 2013



In 2009, the global eco­nomic crisis began to affect Slov­e­nia not only due to shrink­ing European exports, but also because of mis­guided policies taken dur­ing the years of eco­nomic expan­sion (most dur­ing Janez Janša’s first man­date). In 2009, the Slov­e­nian eco­nomy shrunk by 8% and the over­heated con­struc­tion sec­tor dis­in­teg­rated. The Slov­e­nian eco­nomy entered a second reces­sion in the last quarter. Pro­test­ers blame this new reces­sion not only on the auto­cratic, neo­lib­eral, cor­rupt and incom­pet­ent policies of the cur­rent gov­ern­ment, but on a recent suc­ces­sion of cor­rupt self-​serving gov­ern­ments. This is why pro­test­ers have recently deman­ded the replace­ment of the entire polit­ical elite.

The gov­ern­ment has respon­ded with arrog­ance to the raised voices of its own cit­izens. The ostens­ibly rep­res­ent­at­ive gov­ern­ment has con­sist­ently refused to enter into dia­logue with pro­test­ers and had instead dis­cred­ited and ridiculed their legit­im­ate demands. This shame­ful response has only helped the protest move­ment to grow. The gov­ern­ment has also respon­ded to the protests by clos­ing down the centre of the cap­ital city of Ljubljana, by using riot police, horses, armoured vehicles, water can­nons, anti­riot fences and heli­copters in what can only be char­ac­ter­ized as a gross over­re­ac­tion to the largely peace­ful gath­er­ings of Slov­e­nian cit­izens. The police has imprisoned large num­ber of young­sters, mis­streat­ing them, hold­ing them host­ages, black­mail­ing their parants to stop protest­ing, if they want to see their kids lib­er­ated. Prime Min­is­ter Janez Janša has described the pro­test­ers as “extrem­ist left zom­bies” and char­ac­ter­ized them as rad­ical “neo-​socialists” in an effort to bal­ance out the actual pres­ence of neo-​Nazis (pos­sibly organ­ised by the rul­ing gov­ern­ment itself in an effort to dis­credit the protests at the begin­ning of the move­ment). Again this insult­ing gov­ern­ment response has back­fired, draw­ing more and more angry cit­izens into the streets.


Slovenians Demand Radical Change | Critical Legal Thinking 2013-01-15

The protests were triggered by an appar­ently insig­ni­fic­ant and mar­ginal issue in local polit­ics. In Mari­bor, the second largest city of Slov­e­nia, the city mayor com­mit­ted a private com­pany to install cam­eras across the city, in order to con­trol the traffic and pen­al­ize the viol­a­tions of speed lim­its. The main prob­lem was that the pen­al­ties would be paid to the same private com­pany. This then added fuel to the already foun­ded accus­a­tions of cor­rup­tion in the city coun­cil and not­ably in the mayor’s office. The occa­sional protests cul­min­ated in what became known as the “Mari­bor upris­ing”, where, for the first time in the short his­tory of Slov­e­nian inde­pend­ency, the police used excess­ive viol­ence, water can­nons, heli­copters etc. The com­bin­a­tion of local issues and cyn­ical polit­ical reac­tions from the gov­ern­ing parties lead to the situ­ation in which a vast major­ity could recog­nize their own dis­sat­is­fac­tion and frus­tra­tion with the gov­ern­ing polit­ics, and more broadly with the prob­lem­atic polit­ical tra­di­tion in Slov­e­nia. The ini­ti­at­ives for protests spread across the coun­try and the major­ity of organ­ising was con­duc­ted through the social networks.

The People Returns: A footnote to protests in Slovenia | Critical Legal Thinking 2013-01-16
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