With dwindling budgets forcing unpopular spending cuts and tax hikes in many countries, the global financial crisis is steadily emerging as a political threat to governments. Demonstrations have begun in Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria and Iceland.
Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, who just took office last month, stated the following:
“We will only speak to those who unequivocally distance themselves from those who have staged riots, who sow chaos and who encroach upon the constitutional system,” Kubilius said in a statement released to news agencies. The Prime Minister continued|: “The riot will not scare us.”
Lithuania’s economy is expected to enter a recession this year. The protests were called in response to the government’s attempts to curb the financial crisis, including widely unpopular tax hikes. “Thieves! Thieves!” some protesters shouted at the government Friday.
“The government has long neglected the social needs of the people, pensioners and others,” Algirdas Paleckis, leader of the Frontas radical left party, told Reuters news agency.
Lithuania’s northern neighbor on the Baltic Sea coast, is Latvia. The largest party in its ruling coalition on Friday called for early parliamentary elections after a massive demonstration roiled the capital this week.
Once boasting the European Union’s fastest-growing economy, Latvia was forced to seek loans in 2008 from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The government has dramatically cut social spending.
Festering anger boiled over in the capital, Riga, on Tuesday as a protest demanding early elections led to riots and looting. Youths dug cobblestones from the streets, smashed storefronts and destroyed police vehicles, news agencies reported. More than 100 people were detained in the worst violence to shake Latvia since the country gained its independence in the Soviet collapse.
Protesters also rioted outside Bulgaria’s parliament building this week as citizens of the EU’s poorest country railed against their government.