In Germany, the former mayor of Berlin is the victim of an attack in a tense context

The former mayor of Berlin, Franziska Giffey, a figure in Olaf Scholz's Social Democratic Party, was attacked and slightly injured, an act which adds to a series of attacks against elected officials in Germany in the run-up to the elections

In Germany, the former mayor of Berlin is the victim of an attack in a tense context

The former mayor of Berlin, Franziska Giffey, a figure in Olaf Scholz's Social Democratic Party, was attacked and slightly injured, an act which adds to a series of attacks against elected officials in Germany in the run-up to the elections.

The latest incident took place on Tuesday May 7 afternoon, Berlin police announced early Wednesday. The suspect approached Franziska Giffey while she was in a library in the south of the capital, in the Rudow district, and hit her on the head and neck with a heavy bag before fleeing .

Ms Giffey, who is currently the economy minister of the city state of Berlin, went "briefly to hospital to be treated for head pain", police said. A 74-year-old suspect has been arrested and is already known for charges relating to “state security and hate crimes,” police said, adding that they were investigating the motive for the attack. Prosecutors are also exploring whether to send the man to psychiatric care as evidence suggests he may suffer from mental illness.

“After the first scare, I can say that I am fine,” reacted Ms. Giffey on her X account. “Nevertheless, I am concerned and upset by the intensification of a “wild culture” in which people who politically engaged in our country are increasingly exposed,” she added.

“We live in a free and democratic country, in which everyone can be free to express their opinions,” but “there is a clear limit – and that is violence against people,” she insisted. The increase in violence, insults and threats against political personnel has become a subject of major concern in the country.

The AfD party singled out

Chancellor Olaf Scholz described the recent attacks on elected officials as “revolting and cowardly” in a message posted on X. “Violence has no place in the democratic debate,” he continued. The city's current mayor, conservative Kai Wegner, condemned the attack, saying anyone who attacks politicians is "attacking [democracy]" and pledging to examine " tougher penalties for attacks on politicians.”

On Tuesday, the interior ministers of the Länder already agreed to study a toughening of the law against this type of aggression, Federal Minister Nancy Faeser recommended opposing “a very clear stop signal” to the attackers.

Several political leaders have been threatened or attacked recently in Germany in a tense electoral campaign context ahead of the European vote on June 9 and several regional elections in September.

The most serious case at this stage concerns Matthias Ecke, an MEP from Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democratic Party, who was seriously injured on Saturday (4 May) by four people while putting up posters in the city of Dresden, Saxony , in the former communist GDR. He required surgery for facial injuries. The attack was denounced by Mr. Scholz as a threat to democracy.

Since the indignation aroused this weekend by the attack on MEP Mr. Ecke, many German officials have questioned the responsibility of the far-right AfD party in the propagation of hate speech favoring violence.

According to provisional police figures, 2,790 crimes were committed against politicians in Germany in 2023, up from 1,806 in 2023, but fewer than the 2,840 recorded in 2021, the year of the parliamentary elections.