The leader of Germany’s new anti-eurozone party has called for a police clampdown on extreme left-wing groups after he and fellow party members were attacked with knives and pepper spray by masked activists chanting “Nazis out” at a weekend political rally.
Bernd Lucke, a university professor and head of the recently formed Eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and his colleagues were set upon by three masked men in their early to mid-20s in Bremen on Saturday.
The gang pushed 51-year-old Mr Lucke off the podium and attacked AfD members with pepper spray. One party member was wounded with a knife as he pursued the attackers and 16 people suffered breathing difficulties.
The AfD has been accused of right-wing populism. But yesterday Germany’s ruling political parties condemned the attack as an incident reminiscent of the Weimar Republic of the early 1930s when political parties such as the Nazis regularly resorted to violence to intimidate opponents.
Ruprecht Polenz, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, said: “Given Germany’s political past, it is important to combat such developments as soon as they start occurring.”
Mr Lucke said the attack showed that it was time for the police and justice authorities “to stop being patient with far-left groups and start acting offensively towards criminal structures”.
The three attackers were remanded in custody over the weekend and subsequently released.
The AfD is campaigning for parliamentary seats in Germany’s 22 September general election. The Eurosceptic party claims that Germany’s ruling parties have grossly misled the public about the extent to which taxpayers contribute to maintaining the eurozone. The party would like to see bailout countries such as Greece and Spain removed from the eurozone.