Econo-protests rock Slovenia

Protesters clashed with police in Slovenia‘s second city Maribor Dec. 3 in a march against austerity measures. Police said more than 20 were arrested and at least one officer was injured after some from a crowd of around 6,000 protesters threw rocks and fireworks. Protests began in the city last week to demand the resignation of Mayor Franc Kangler, who is accused of corruption. But over the weekend, deomstrations spread to the capital, Ljubljana, taking up general anti-austerity demands. Protests in Ljubljana and five other cities of small post-Yugoslav state were peaceful but large, bringing thousands to the streets.

National run-off elections on Dec. 2 defeated incumbent President Danilo Turk, an independent leftist who had dissented from austerity measures imposed by Prime Minister Janez Jansa’s conservative coalition. Kangler was expelled from the Slovenian People’s Party, a junior partner in the ruling coalition. Turk was defeated by Borut Pahor, the former prime minister whose center-left Social Democratic government was toppled last year after a rejection of pension changes in a referendum. Pahor posed as a conciliator ready to work with Jansa, and his victory could portend further polarization. (Transitions Online, BBC News, Dec. 4; BBC News, Reuters, FT, Dec. 3)