Another German politician attacked as concerns rise over pre-European elections violence

Former Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey.
Former Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey. Copyright AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
Copyright AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
By Euronews with AP
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The rise in far-right sentiment across Europe and Germany in particular has come with increased threats to public figures and various groups.


A prominent Berlin politician was violently assaulted and suffered injuries to her head and neck, police said Wednesday – the latest in a series of attacks on elected officials that have raised concern over rising political violence in Germany.

Franziska Giffey, the city's top economic official, a former mayor and an ex-federal minister, was attacked at an event in a Berlin library on Tuesday by a man who approached her from behind and hit her with a bag containing a hard device, police said.

Giffey was taken to a hospital and treated for head and neck pain, police said. Berlin prosecutors said Wednesday morning that they had identified the alleged perpetrator but did not give details.

Berlin Mayor Kai Wegner strongly condemned the attack.

"Anyone who attacks politicians is attacking our democracy," said Wegner, according to German news agency dpa. "We will not tolerate this. We will oppose all forms of violence, hatred and agitation and protect our democracy."

Writing on Instagram, Giffey described political violence as "a transgression of boundaries that we as a society must resolutely oppose".

"We live in a free and democratic country in which everyone is free to express their opinion," she wrote, "and yet there is a clear limit. And that is violence against people who hold a different opinion, for whatever reason, in whatever form."

A string of recent attacks has raised political tensions in Germany, where the atmosphere is already febrile ahead of this summer's European elections, in which far right parties across the EU are expected to make gains.

Climate of fear

Last week, a candidate from the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz was beaten up in the eastern city of Dresden while campaigning and had to undergo surgery.

Police detained four suspects, aged between 17 and 18, and said that the same group had apparently attacked a Green Party worker minutes before. At least one of the teens is said to be linked to the far right, security officials said.

Also on Tuesday, a 47-year-old Green politician was attacked by two people while putting up election posters in Dresden, news outlet dpa reported.

Both 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.

In February, the German Parliament said in a report there were 2790 attacks on elected representatives in 2023. Representatives of The Greens were disproportionately affected in 1219 cases, those from the far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, in 478 cases and representatives of the SPD in 420 cases.

The country's vice chancellor, Robert Habeck, who is a member of the Greens, was prevented from disembarking a ferry for hours by a group of angry farmers in January, and the vice president of the German Parliament, Katrin Goering-Eckardt, also from The Greens, was prevented from leaving an event in the state of Brandenburg last week when an angry crowd blocked her car.

Girding up

Germany's federal interior minister, Nancy Faeser, said after a special meeting of the country's 16 state interior ministers on the issue of violence on Tuesday that possible measures included tightening Germany's criminal law to "punish anti-democratic acts more severely."

Many of the incidents took place in the east of the country, where Scholz's government remains deeply unpopular. The Interior Ministry in the state of Saxony said it had registered 112 election-related crimes so far this year, including 30 against elected officials or representatives.

Mainstream parties have accused AfD of links to violent neo-Nazi groups and of fomenting an intimidating political climate. One of its leaders, Bjoern Hoecke, is currently on trial for using a banned Nazi slogan.

AfD, which campaigns against immigration and European integration, is expected to make gains in the European polls as well as in elections in Saxony and two other eastern German states in the fall.

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