The Saxon SPD’s top candidate for the European elections, Matthias Ecke, was attacked and seriously injured while posting posters in the Striesen district of Dresden. While putting up election posters late on Friday evening, four unknown people beat the 41-year-old, as the police and the party announced on Saturday. He had to undergo surgery in the hospital. Politicians from several parties strongly condemned the attack.

Minutes before the attack on Ecke, according to the police, a group of four had already attacked a 28-year-old campaign worker for the Green Party while he was posting posters. The perpetrators hit and kicked him, and the 28-year-old was also injured. Based on the matching personal descriptions and the proximity in time and location, the state security investigators assume that the perpetrators are the same in both cases.

The attack on Ecke was an “unmistakable alarm signal to all people in this country,” said state party leaders Henning Homann and Kathrin Michel, according to the statement. “The series of attacks by thugs on poster teams of democratic parties are an attack on the foundations of our democracy. The violent actions and intimidation of democrats are the means of fascists.” The seeds that the AfD and other right-wing extremists have sown are growing; their supporters are completely disinhibited. But the SPD cannot be silenced, emphasized Homann and Michel.

The SPD federal chairmen Saskia Esken and Lars Klingbeil also strongly condemned the attack. “This insidious attack affects our entire party. It is an attack on all election campaigners who passionately support our democracy and the rule of law,” it said in a statement on Saturday. “The perpetrators want to intimidate us as representatives of a democratic society. But they will never succeed.” It is expected that the crime will be solved and the perpetrators will be held accountable.

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) said on Saturday that she condemned the serious act of violence in the strongest possible terms. “If a politically motivated attack on MEP Matthias Ecke is confirmed a few weeks before the European elections, then this serious act of violence is also a serious attack on democracy. We are experiencing a new dimension of anti-democratic violence here.”

Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) said on Attacks and intimidation by political competitors are familiar from the darkest eras of our history.

There have also been repeated attacks in the election campaign across the country – most recently on Thursday evening in Essen. The Green Bundestag member Kai Gehring and his party colleague Rolf Fliß said they were attacked there after a party event.

Note: This article has been updated several times.