German socialist candidate attacked before EU elections

by Admin
German socialist candidate attacked before EU elections

Matthias Ecke, a member of Germany’s centre-left Social Democratic Party, was attacked on Saturday while out campaigning.


A candidate for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s centre-left party in next month’s European Parliament election has been seriously injured while campaigning in eastern Germany, the party said on Saturday.

Matthias Ecke, a Social Democrats (SPD) candidate, was attacked while putting up political posters in Dresden on Friday evening, according to the party.

He was taken to hospital and required surgery for his injuries, it said. 

Police said the 41-year-old was hit and kicked by four men and that the same group had apparently attacked a Green Party worker minutes before in the same street.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, also a Social Democrat, said if it’s proven that the assault on Ecke was politically motivated, it would represent “a serious attack on democracy.”

The attack was the latest in a series of incidents raising political tensions in Germany ahead of the European Parliament election.  

Scholz’s SPD launched their official campaign for the 9 June vote with a rally last week in Hamburg, where the German leader grew up.

“We are experiencing a new dimension of anti-democratic violence,” Faeser said. 

She promised “tougher action and further protective measures for the democratic forces in our country.”

Government and opposition parties say their members and supporters have faced a wave of physical and verbal attacks in recent months and have called on police to step up protection for politicians and election rallies.

Many of the incidents have occurred in the former communist east of the country, where the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) is expected to make gains in the European elections and upcoming votes in Germany. 

Last week, the car carrying the vice-president of the German parliament, Katrin Goering-Eckardt of the Greens, was surrounded for nearly an hour by protesters as she tried to leave a rally. 

The opposition Christian Democrats and the Left party say their workers have also faced intimidation and seen their posters ripped down.

Mainstream parties accuse the AfD of links to violent neo-Nazi groups and of fomenting an increasingly harsh political climate. A prominent AfD leader, Bjoern Hoecke, is currently on trial accused of using a banned Nazi slogan. 

Germany’s domestic intelligence service has placed some chapters of the party under surveillance.

The branch of the Social Democrats in Saxony state, where Ecke is their lead candidate for the European elections, said their campaign would go on despite “fascist methods” of intimidation.

“The seeds that the AfD and other right-wing extremists have sown are germinating,” the branch leaders, Henning Homann und Kathrin Michel, said in a joint statement. “These people and their supporters carry responsibility for what is happening in this country.”

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