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Election campaign: After attack on SPD politician Corner: 17-year-old turns himself in

Election campaign: After attack on SPD politician Corner: 17-year-old turns himself in

The horror is great: an SPD politician is beaten until he is hospitalized. The crime is part of a series of attacks on party members before the local and European elections – what can be done about it?

After the brutal attack on the Dresden SPD European politician Matthias Ecke, a 17-year-old turned himself in to the police. The State Criminal Police Office (LKA) said he went to the police on Sunday night and stated that he was the perpetrator. The background to the attacks on Ecke and previously on a Green Party campaign worker carried out by four young men on Friday evening was still unclear at the weekend – the investigation was ongoing.

Politicians from all parties were horrified. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier appealed to everyone to conduct the political debate peacefully and with respect. Two alliances called for demonstrations in Berlin and Dresden on Sunday afternoon – the motto: “Violence has no place in our democracy!”

The federal and state governments want to discuss possible consequences of the violence on Tuesday. This was announced by the chairman of the Conference of Interior Ministers, Brandenburg’s department head Michael Stübgen (CDU): “I will suggest to my state colleagues next Tuesday as the date for an informal meeting at the level of the Conference of Interior Ministers.”

SPD politician is in hospital

Ecke is the Saxon SPD’s leading candidate for the European elections. The 41-year-old is doing well after the attack, given the circumstances. He was operated on, said Saxon SPD leader Henning Homann at the state headquarters in Dresden. He suffered a fracture of his cheekbone and eye socket as well as hematomas on his face.

The SPD Saxony assumes that he will continue his election campaign. However, that is not the aspect that is currently in the foreground, it was said.

Shortly before the attack on Ecke, according to police, the same group had also injured a Green Party campaign worker nearby. According to police information on Saturday, the four men are estimated to be between 17 and 20 years old and were said to be wearing dark clothing. A witness assigned her to the right-wing spectrum.

The 17-year-old who turned himself in had not yet appeared to the police, the LKA reported. He is not in custody because it is not expected that he will go into hiding. The three other suspects remain unknown.

Violence also against politicians from other parties

Other parties are also the target of attacks: According to police, an AfD member of the state parliament was beaten at an information stand in Nordhorn, Lower Saxony, on Saturday morning. In Dresden, two 23-year-old women and a 28-year-old man suddenly attacked a party information stand on Saturday and damaged displays, posters and a table, the police said. The operator of the stand was not injured. The police identified the suspects following information from witnesses.

In addition, according to the police, a group of 20 young people apparently randomly damaged 21 election posters for the AfD, the FDP, the CDU and the Left in Dresden on Sunday night. A witness called the police, who caught a 17-year-old destroying a left-wing poster on Schandauer Strasse – where Ecke and the Green Party activists were attacked.

The incidents are part of a nationwide series of attacks on party members before the local and European elections on June 9th: On Thursday, Bundestag member Kai Gehring (Greens) and his party colleague Rolf Fliß said they were attacked and Fliß was beaten in Essen. A few days ago, Bundestag Vice President Katrin-Göring-Eckardt (Greens) was aggressively harassed after an event in eastern Brandenburg and prevented from leaving for a long time.

Greens increasingly in the sights of attackers

The target group of the attackers has recently shifted somewhat: in 2019, representatives of the AfD were primarily the target of hostility, but now it is the Greens. According to preliminary figures, 478 cases were recorded nationwide for the AfD last year, and 1,219 for the Greens. There were 420 for the SPD, fewer for other parties – a total of 2,790 such crimes were reported, as the government announced in response to an AfD query.

The Greens are therefore calling for more protection in the election campaign. “The interior ministers must now present concepts for the best possible protection of politicians and, above all, volunteer campaigners,” said Federal Managing Director Emily Büning of the German Press Agency. Cooperation with the police and the state criminal investigation offices is essential. “We will now once again reinforce the recommendation in our district associations that every event and every election campaign should be reported to the security authorities in advance.”

Expressions of solidarity for the attacked politician corner

Politicians across party lines condemned violence in political debates. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said: “Democracy is threatened by something like this, and that’s why shrugging off acceptance is never an option.” Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) said of the attacks: “They are the disgusting and inexcusable result of a brutalization of language, debate and disinhibition in the so-called social media.” Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) wrote on Platform X: “Violence is not a legitimate means of political debate. By no one. Against no one. Period.” Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) warned on X: “The disinhibition of political debate affects us all. Everyone can be next.”

CDU leader Friedrich Merz appealed to “carry out election campaigns with due respect and, above all, without any aggression, especially without physical violence.” This applies regardless of which party the campaigners belong to, “my own, the SPD, the Greens, the FDP, whoever.”

AfD leader Tino Chrupalla, whose party is blamed by some for an atmosphere conducive to violence, also wrote on Platform .”

Call for harsher punishments for the attackers

The President of the German Association of Cities, Markus Lewe, called for harsher penalties. “We need to better protect politically active people. Tightening criminal law could also help in this regard, which persecutes stalking, marches in front of residential buildings and threats against the families of politicians,” he told the “Rheinische Post” (Monday).

Source: Stern

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