In order to better protect politicians and volunteer campaigners against attacks, the federal and state interior ministers are, in addition to the police, examining stricter criminal law. Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) and the conference of interior ministers of the federal states called for an end to violence and agitation at a video conference.

The switch was scheduled after a brutal attack on the SPD politician Matthias Ecke in Dresden. Faeser described the attack on Ecke in the ARD “Tagesthemen” as a turning point. “We decided today at the Interior Ministers’ Conference that there should be stricter penalties,” said the SPD politician. She will advocate this with Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP).

At the same time, Faeser said that the tightening of criminal law was only one measure. Among other things, faster judicial procedures are needed to quickly show perpetrators the limits. It is also important that all crimes are reported and consistently prosecuted. She referred to the next meeting of the Conference of Interior Ministers, where the topic would have to be discussed in more depth.

Attacks are increasing

The chairman of the Conference of Interior Ministers, Brandenburg’s Interior Minister Michael Stübgen (CDU), said that the renewed attacks represented a development in which people wanted to use violence, hatred and agitation to achieve political goals. “Lies, violence and threats threaten to become more and more part of the political discourse. This endangers our democracy.”

According to him, the department heads supported two Federal Council initiatives from Bavaria and Saxony. The Saxon initiative, which the state cabinet approved yesterday, provides for tougher penalties for attacks on politicians and election workers.

This is intended to protect decision-makers, especially at the local level, from attacks on their private lives. The interior ministers are also calling on the Federal Ministry of the Interior to ensure that Bavaria’s initiative to protect charitable activities under criminal law is dealt with quickly. This means that attacks on politically active people should be punished more severely.

In the resolution, the ministers call on the Conference of Justice Ministers to examine whether “the deliberate spread of disinformation with the aim of influencing elections or escalating violence constitutes injustice worthy of punishment.”

The trigger was an attack on SPD candidates in Dresden

The department heads condemned “in the strongest possible terms any attacks on politically active people who are committed to living democracy in Germany and who deserve the highest recognition, respect and protection,” as the resolution states. Matthias Ecke, the SPD’s leading candidate for the European elections in Saxony, was beaten up on Friday by four young men aged 17 and 18 when he tried to put up election posters.

The Saxony State Criminal Police Office (LKA) attributes at least one of the attackers to the right-wing spectrum. Shortly before the beating attack on Ecke, according to the police, the same group had probably injured a Green campaign worker nearby.

Green Party politician attacked in Dresden

Yesterday the police reported another attack in Dresden: two people attacked a Green Party politician when she was hanging up election posters. Shortly afterwards, police officers identified a 24-year-old and a 34-year-old as suspects, as the Dresden Police Department announced on Tuesday evening. A spokesman initially did not want to say who the attacked person was.

The man pushed the politician aside, insulted and threatened her, and the woman spat at the politician. Because the two were said to have previously stood with a group from which the Hitler salute was said to have been shown, they are also being investigated for using the symbols of unconstitutional organizations. Both suspects remained at large, the police spokesman said.

Interior Minister Schuster: “Fear is spreading”

Saxony’s Interior Minister Armin Schuster said on ZDF’s “Heute Journal” that there were increasing threats against local officials and elected officials. “Fear is spread and these people are influenced.” If this brutalization is not intervened, attacks like those in Dresden could result.

Hesse’s Interior Minister Roman Poseck (CDU) spoke of a strong and united signal against brutalization, hatred and incitement. “I therefore think it is logical to punish attacks that are also directed against our basic democratic values ​​more severely and to include the reprehensible attitude underlying the acts in the sentence,” said Poseck.

Statistics show more crimes against MPs

According to Faeser, there were 2,710 crimes against elected officials in 2023, 53 percent more than in the previous year. She emphasized: “Attacks against AfD politicians are also unacceptable.” She spoke of an “escalation of anti-democratic violence.” The spiral of hatred and violence must be stopped.

Hamburg’s Interior Senator Andy Grote (SPD) called on citizens to inform the police, including about the destruction of election posters. Although the tightening of laws was not the focus of the discussions, it could be that “we also take another look at the legal level of protection.”

Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) encouraged those affected to contact the police as early as possible. He said no one should have to put up with insults and threats. According to Herrmann, the department heads have agreed to talk at the Interior Ministers’ Conference in June about whether additional efforts are needed to ensure the protection of everyone involved around the upcoming state elections in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg in the fall.