Clashes broke out Friday night in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana as angry demonstrators tried to push through a police cordon to storm parliament. Several protesters were arrested and police fought to disperse the crowd, which was throwing rocks, bottles and firecrackers at them. Tensions have been soaring ahead of this weekend’s presidential runoff in the small, economically struggling EU nation. Thousands joined the protests Friday against Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and his Cabinet, accusing them of corruption and fraud and demanding their resignations.
Carrying banners that read “You are finished” and “Thieves,” about 8,000 people braved the drizzle and cold to express their discontent with government cost-cutting measures and other reforms designed to avoid an international bailout.
Slovenia is facing one of the worst recessions of the 17 nations that use the euro currency. Its economy has shrunk more than 8 percent since 2009 and continues to decline, resulting in a sharp drop in exports and living standards and a surge in unemployment, which now stands about 12 percent. The vote on Sunday pits incumbent President Danilo Turk against former prime minister Borut Pahor.