Dresden, Germany – The incident occurred Friday evening. Matthias Ecke, who is a Social Democrat lawmaker in the European Parliament, was taken to hospital with serious injuries and required an operation, his party said.

Police said they have not identified the attackers. A special state violent crime task force has taken over the investigation into the attack, according to Saxony’s Interior Ministry.

News of the attack prompted outraged reactions from politicians from several of Germany’s political parties, who decried the violence.

At a democracy congress for the upcoming European elections in Berlin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Saturday that the attack on Ecke was depressing.

“Democracy is threatened by something like this, and that is why shrugging our shoulders is never an option,” said Scholz. “We must stand together against it.”

The fact that such things happen also has something to do with the speeches that are made and the moods that are created, said Scholz, referring to the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The SPD’s leaders in Saxony blamed the AfD and other right-wing extremist groups for sowing hatred against democratic politicians and warned that right-wing supporters “are now completely uninhibited” and see democratic politicians as “fair game.”

Minutes before Ecke was attacked on Friday, according to the police, a group of four unidentified assailants had attacked a 28-year-old Green Party campaign worker while he was putting up posters in the same part of Dresden.

The perpetrators punched and kicked him, and the 28-year-old was also injured.

Due to similar descriptions of the attackers and the proximity of the attacks in both time and location, investigators believe that the same group carried out both assaults.

The SPD party organization in Saxony said that other campaign teams placing posters had faced insults and attempts at intimidation and that posters had been destroyed.

The attack is an “unmistakable alarm signal to all people in this country,” the co-chairs of the SPD in Saxony, Henning Homann and Kathrin Michel, said in a statement.

“The series of attacks by thugs on poster teams of democratic parties is an attack on the foundations of our democracy. The violent action and intimidation of democrats is the tool of fascists.”

German democracy “must not tolerate this,” the SPD leaders said. “And it is also clear that we will not be silenced!”

Saxony’s state premier, Michael Kretschmer of the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU), warned that political street violence was a reminder of the darkest periods in German history.

“It is shocking and an attack on our democratic values, the attack on SPD top candidate Matthias Ecke appals me deeply and cannot be justified by anything,” Kretschmer said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

The party’s national co-chairs, Saskia Esken and Lars Klingbeil, described Ecke’s beating as an “insidious attack” on the entire party and all campaign workers “who passionately stand up for our democracy and the rule of law.”

“The perpetrators want to intimidate us as representatives of a democratic society. But they will never succeed,” Esken and Klingbein said in a statement on Saturday.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, also a member of the SPD, said that if authorities confirm that the attack on Ecke was politically motivated, “then this serious act of violence is also a serious attack on democracy.”

There have also been several violent incidents during election campaigns across Germany, most recently on Thursday evening in the western German city of Essen, where the Green Party member of parliament Kai Gehring and his party colleague Rolf Fliss were attacked after a party event.

The editorial responsibility for the publication lies with dpa.