Shock and dismay after attack on German EU politician

Four days after the attack on Saxony’s leading SPD candidate for the European elections, Matthias Ecke (41) is still recovering in hospital. He was assaulted by four men while putting up election posters and had to undergo surgery. Other parties have also reported violent incidents and attempts at intimidation during the election campaign. What’s going on?

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

An attack on democracy

taz is appalled:

“It’s the uninhibited violence that is alarming. The willingness to fight out political disputes with one’s fists. The consensus that existed in the old Federal Republic that this is not acceptable under penalty of political ostracism has been shattered, as some cynical reactions from the ranks of the AfD have made clear. And even when right-wingers are among those attacked, in the vast majority of cases it’s obvious that the perpetrators were motivated by right-wing extremism. These attacks are aimed at destroying the very basis of democracy: the political commitment of people in their city and community. If everyone is too afraid to run for office, the perpetrators will have won.”

Klaus Hillenbrand
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Violence unacceptable no matter where it comes from

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung, however, sees no evidence that the violence is coming from a particular group:

“Political violence and verbal abuse exist on all sides of the political spectrum. There is right-wing aggression and left-wing aggression, there are left-wing and right-wing — and also Islamist — offenders. None of this is acceptable. Democracy suffers when violence becomes a means of political debate. The trend towards brutalisation can only be stopped if the perpetrators are severely punished, potential victims are better protected and political opponents are not regarded as enemies. ... Those who attack people because they have different convictions can’t hope for understanding from any political camp.”

Alexander Kissler
Le Quotidien (LU) /

Social media fuel hatred

One cause driving the violence is clear, Le Quotidien comments:

“The communities so cherished by the social networks have separated people from each other and enclosed them in spheres that are hermetically sealed against other opinions. After years of intellectual isolation, for them anyone with a different opinion is inevitably wrong. And we are only at the beginning of the movement. The extremist parties have been quick to seize the opportunity and are happily using this new communication channel to connect those who seem to share their ideas.”

Laurent Duraisin