Slovenians take to streets against corruption
Thousands march in the capital, demanding a snap election after the conservative government of Janez Jansa was ousted.
Protestors ‘marked’ the central bank building with stickers saying ‘This is our property’ [AFP]
|Thousands of Slovenians have gathered on Ljubljana to protest against corruption and the country’s political elite. Some 5,000 demonstrators turned out on Saturday despite heavy rain at the capital’s central Kongresni trg square to demand further changes following the fall of the centre-right government led by Janez Jansa. They joined the fourth rally called by a Facebook civil group founded in November to demand the resignation of Jansa.“We demand the resignations of all incapable and corrupted political elite members,” the Facebook group with over 18,000 followers said ahead of the rally. It also asked Alenka Bratusek, prime minister designate, to set a date for early elections as soon as she officially takes over the government.The previous rally held on February 8 that drew some 20,000 protestors was one of the largest anti-government demonstrations in the former Yugoslav state of two million people since it declared independence in 1991. The protesters carried banners such as “We do not want a new government but revolutionary changes” and “There will be no peace until there is justice”, as they marched through the centre of the city.During the march, protesters “marked” the central bank building and other public institutions with stickers saying “This is our property”. No major incidents were reported during the protest except for a small incendiary device thrown to the central bank building that was extinguished by police.
Last month the Slovenian parliament gave Bratusek the mandate to form a new government which would take over from Jansa, accused of corruption by the Balkan country’s anti-corruption watchdog. If Bratusek fails to form a new government coalition by Thursday, Slovenia could face early elections for the second time in less than two years.
Hungarians rally as constitution seen curbing freedom
BUDAPEST | Sat Mar 9, 2013 1:09pm EST
(Reuters) – Thousands of Hungarians protested in central Budapest on Saturday against imminent changes to the country’s constitution that they fear would curb democratic rights, echoing worries this week from the European Union and the United States.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling center-right Fidesz party has used its unprecedented two-thirds parliamentary majority to make laws that critics say limit citizens’ freedoms.
Parliament is scheduled to hold a final vote on the constitutional changes on Monday.
Decisions of the country’s top Constitutional Court made before the new constitution entered into force in 2012 will no longer be valid, discarding an important body of law often used as reference before. Restrictive new regulation may now appear in higher education, homelessness, electoral law and family law.
“We really have had enough of this,” said 17-year-old student Luca Cseh, adding the changes limited her prospects of going to university as state subsidies would only be available to students who pledge to work in Hungary after graduation.
“They oppress students, but also the homeless or homosexuals,” she said.
In a phone call on Friday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told Prime Minister Viktor Orban that his government and the parliament should address concerns “in accordance with EU democratic principles”.
Orban sent a letter to Barroso after the phone call in which he pledged Hungary would conform to the norms and rules of the European Union, without offering specifics, according to a copy of the letter posted on the state news agency MTI’s web site.
Earlier this week the European institution responsible for defending human rights, the Council of Europe, urged Budapest to postpone the vote, fearing for Hungary’s democratic checks and balances.
The government rejected that request, and Justice Minister Tibor Navracsics sent a detailed explanation of the laws to the Council defending the changes and offering further discussions.
The U.S. State Department and human rights organizations also expressed concern.
However, the leader of the Fidesz party’s parliament group, Antal Rogan, told a news conference on Saturday that external pressure on Hungary was unacceptable.
Speakers at the protest said they would no longer tolerate being told what to do by the government.
Philosopher and opposition activist Miklos Tamas Gaspar told the crowd: “When they lay down in the constitution how those who have nowhere to go may or may not sleep on the street, how a student with no job prospects may or may not go abroad for work, then we need to ask whether it’s us protesters that have gone crazy or those who write the constitution.”
Furious Friday Sees Strikes All Over Europe