After the brutal attack on SPD politician Matthias Ecke while putting up election posters in Dresden, the search for three previously unknown perpetrators continues. The background to the attack is also still unclear.

The 17-year-old suspect who turned himself in has not yet revealed the motive for the crime, the police wrote on the platform X (formerly Twitter). At the same time, the discussion about possible consequences of the escalation of violence is coming into focus. The federal and state governments want to discuss the issue on Tuesday. Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) is calling for better protection for politicians and helpers during election campaigns.

On Friday evening, Ecke, the Saxon SPD’s leading candidate for the European elections, was beaten up while hanging up election posters in Dresden. The 41-year-old was taken to hospital with a fracture of his cheekbone and eye socket as well as bruises and cuts on his face. Ecke was operated on on Sunday and is doing well under the circumstances, said Saxon SPD leader Henning Homann. Shortly before the attack on the SPD politician, according to police, the same group had probably attacked and injured a 28-year-old Green Party campaign worker nearby.

Search for other perpetrators

The police believe there are four suspects. On Sunday night, a 17-year-old turned himself in to the police and confessed to the attack on Ecke. The three other suspects remain unknown. According to police, the young men are estimated to be between 17 and 20 years old. According to witnesses, they were dressed in dark clothing, a police spokesman said. A witness assigned her to the right-wing spectrum.

Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) denounced the growing aggressiveness and increasing violence within society. “These are enemies of democracy (…) It’s really five to twelve,” he said on the ARD program “Caren Miosga”. This needs to be countered with a stop sign. You still have the power to change things. But there is a new quality. This should not go unchallenged. Right-wing populists would incite the population.

The Saxon Interior Minister Armin Schuster (CDU) also spoke out in favor of harsh punishment for perpetrators who attack election campaigners. This must be “punished to the maximum”. “Because when election posters are torn down, it’s not just about damaging property, but about impairing free elections,” he told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung.” Hate speech has very concrete effects on the streets.

Schuster also announced close coordination with the parties to protect their election campaigners. “We certainly won’t be able to protect every single campaigner; that’s just not possible in terms of numbers. But we will try even harder than before to create clever spatial coverage,” said Schuster. With information from the parties, they want to be able to better identify the actions and events that are particularly in need of protection – and not just when party celebrities visit.

SPD only wants to display posters during the day

The investigations are ongoing, under high pressure, as Saxony’s Interior Minister Armin Schuster (CDU) explained. “We will ensure that all perpetrators are brought to justice.” At the same time, he advocated intensifying cooperation between party headquarters and the Saxon police during the election campaign in order to be able to better protect participants at events, for example. Saxony’s SPD leader announced that posters would only be posted during the day and the teams would be expanded.

“We need even more visible police presence on site to protect democrats at campaign stands and at events,” Federal Interior Minister Faeser told the “Rheinische Post” in light of the attack on Ecke and other politicians and election workers in recent days. “In accordance with the rule of law, we must now act more harshly against violent criminals and provide more protection for democratic forces,” she stressed. She will discuss this “very quickly” with the interior ministers of the states. The chairman of the Conference of Interior Ministers, Brandenburg’s minister Michael Stübgen (CDU), has invited his departmental colleagues to a special conference on Tuesday.

Broad solidarity with those attacked

In Dresden and Berlin, numerous people demonstrated for democracy and against violence in the election campaign, including many well-known politicians. Around 3,000 people came together in Saxony’s state capital, and in Berlin in front of the Brandenburg Gate, the same number of people gathered, according to the “Together Against the Right” alliance, which organized the demonstrations.

Politicians from almost all major parties have also jointly opposed violence in political debates. By Sunday afternoon, more than 100 members of various parliaments signed the so-called Striesen Declaration, which is directed against “the ever-escalating violence against politically active people in public spaces.” The attacks in Dresden took place in the middle-class district of Striesen.

Warnings about red pencil for internal security

Against the background of attacks on election campaigners, internal politicians from the SPD and the Greens are warning Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) against making savings on internal security. “Anyone who wants to make savings in the interior department in these times is putting an ax on democracy. We have to do the opposite and launch a security and democracy package.” The Green Party’s interior expert Marcel Emmerich also warned in “Spiegel”: “In view of the internal and external pressure on our security and democracy, such cuts in the area of ​​internal security would be foolish and negligent.” Green Party deputy Konstantin von Notz reiterated the call for a “special internal security fund”.

Elections also in thousands of municipalities

This year, in addition to the European elections and the state elections in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg, numerous local elections will also take place. The general manager of the German Association of Cities and Municipalities, André Berghegger, pointed out that local politicians in particular are easily vulnerable to insults, agitation, hatred or even physical attacks and is concerned about the increasing attacks on election campaigners. “In 2024, more than 110,000 new mandates will be elected in around 6,000 cities and municipalities,” he told the editorial network Germany (RND/Montag). The events of the past few days are therefore cause for great concern.