Rebellious province of Europe Slovenia
by ANDREJ KURNIK
2012 ended in Slovenia with massive expressions of indignation. Uprisings (vstaje) as they are called by local organizers are aimed against corrupted politicians and austerity measures. People acted against rapidly deteriorating living conditions provoked by crisis and austerity by demanding instant resignation of all political elite considered being corrupted, reforms of political institutions that would make possible popular control over political decision making, and control over common wealth by those that produce it.
Uprisings started in Maribor, the second biggest Slovene city that is economic and cultural capital of Slovene North Eastern region that is the most populated and also the poorest. The trigger of massive protests was city government’s project to introduce system of road speed control – dense network of radars that was constructed in the framework of public private partnership according to which all fines are collected by private partner of municipality. Furious people started to destroy radars and uprisings against mayor Kangler that is involved in numerous corruption scandals were organized by social networks on Facebook and local activist collectives. The slogan of uprisings has became “gotof si!” (You Are Finished!). Maribor uprising gained momentum after mayor Kangler was elected as the member of State Council, which is second chamber of Slovenian parliament that represent local, business and labor interests and guarantees immunity to its members. Every tenth resident of Maribor was on the Freedom Square in Maribor during second Maribor uprising (26.11.2012). Multitude tried to reach municipality building that was heavily protected by police forces. Police savagely attacked the crowd using helicopter, tear-gas, police cavalry. Many were beaten and arrested by police defending their right to protest. The third Maribor uprising (3.12.2012) provided the scenes of clashes with police in which many young people were involved. Police managed to occupy center of Maribor only after more than four hours of clashes. More than 120 people were arrested and almost 30 were charged with criminal charges and preventively detained until the very end of the year. After third uprising Maribor mayor promised to resign at the end of 2012 . On the December 31 he actually resigned. Nonetheless, this resignation did not appease people from Maribor. They demand that entire city government and entire city council step down. They proclaimed next uprising for January 7.
Maribor unrest has almost immediately spread throughout the country. People started to organize uprisings against state government, corrupted political elite and city mayors and governments in practically all corners of the country. In Murska Sobota, the center of the eastern region Prekmurje, almost one third of town inhabitants participated at the first local uprising. During some uprisings clashes between youth and police took place, especially in Maribor, Ljubljana and Jesenice. The police repression certainly defined this first two months of indignation. Besides massive arrests and preventive detentions right wing government also uses agents provocateurs to criminalize indignation. On the protest in Ljubljana that followed second Maribor uprising they used group of militarily trained provocateurs that staged the fight with police and gave it the pretext to attack the protesters. They used this maneuver to portray the indignation of youth that clashes with police as a conspiracy of extreme left and extreme right and even islamists. Since than social turmoil embodied in youth that expresses rage is constantly demonized in the public and also among some peaceful protesters that demand political changes and are not so much considered with social issues.
The spirit of uprising did not stay limited to the streets as was shown during the brief and victorious wild strike in Gorenje with workers chanting to its CEO “gotof si!”. It seems that in those uprisnigs people have started to discover their power. The causes of indignation and demands are as various as are various people on the streets. Nevertheless first cycle of rebellion in Slovenia has led to some common demands that can be synthesized in the following: everyone should step down, not only government but the entire political caste; political system must be changed in such a way that people are going to regain effective control over politicians and policies; that society and economy is reorganized in such a way that people are going to retake the control over common wealth.
In January we are expecting new cycle of rebellion or uprisings in Slovenia. The second week of January starts with new uprising in Maribor with the demand that city council steps down and uprising against corrupted city government in Ptuj. It is going to be followed by uprising of knowledge against dismantlement of public schools and universities. And it will end with second all Slovene uprising in Ljubljana. At the same time uprisings and protests on micro level are ceaselessly taking place. At the end of January unions in public sector are calling for general strike and this will be the first time that union mobilization and mobilization of insurgents are going to coexist. It is going to be interesting encounter because many people that participate at uprisings stress harsh criticism against union leadership and uprisings are often considered as being also the answer to unions’ incapacity to fight the corruption and austerity.
All recent uprisings in Maribor and in Slovenia are listed on the following link:
Short video clip from the second Maribor insurgency (26.11.2012)
Short video clip from the third Maribor insurgency (3.12.2012)
Destruction of one radar in Maribor
Short video from first Ljubljana insurgency (30.11.2012)