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German politician in chancellor’s party hospitalised after being beaten up while campaigning



A German politician in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party had to undergo surgery after being beaten up while campaigning, the ruling Social Democrats (SDP) said on Saturday.

Matthias Ecke, a member of the European Parliament standing for re-election next month, was attacked while putting up posters in Dresden on Friday evening.

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

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.

“Democracy is threatened by this kind of act,” Mr Scholz told a congress of European socialist parties in Berlin on Saturday.

It was the latest in a series of incidents raising political tensions in Germany ahead of the polls.

Serious attack on democracy

Mr Scholz’s SPD, launched their official campaign for the June 9 vote with a rally last week in Hamburg, the chancellor’s home city.

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

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

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.

Opposition workers also faced intimidation

Many of the incidents have occurred in the former communist east of the country, where the far-Right and anti-establishment Alternative for Germany party (AfD) is expected to make gains in the European elections and in German state elections in the autumn.

Last week, the car carrying the vice-president of the German parliament, Katrin Goring-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, Bjorn Hocke, 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 Mr Ecke is their lead candidate for the European elections, said their campaign would go on despite “fascist methods” of intimidation.

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

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