German anti-euro party complains of violent attacks

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 13, 2013 11:34 AM
German anti-euro party complains of violent attacks

BERLIN (Reuters) - A new German party that wants to abolish the euro said on Tuesday that its supporters had suffered violent attacks by far-left radicals and its campaign posters repeatedly destroyed in the run-up to a September 22 election.

The attacks on the Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) highlight the extent of opposition towards a party which seemed destined to make waves in the election when it was launched in April but now looks unlikely to win enough votes to enter parliament.

The AfD said the violence against it had taken place in cities across Germany but it singled out brutality in the central university town of Goettingen.

Some 60 police officers were dispatched on Saturday to protect activists who were being assaulted, said the AfD which blamed far-left sympathizers. It said an arson attack on a garage containing election material had been averted by chance.

AfD co-leader and spokesman Bernd Lucke described the attacks, which have also taken place in Berlin and the northern town of Lueneburg, as "a slap in the face for any Democrat."

"Whoever resorts to violence and destruction to be heard has abandoned their democratic roots," he said in a statement.

The AfD accused the "Gruene Jugend", or Green Youth, as being responsible and the group's Goettingen branch has a post on its website calling for protests against the AfD.

"Gruene Jugend" has some links to the opposition Greens party but is more radical. It calls itself ecological, anti-fascist and anti-capitalist.

The AfD, whose main policy is an orderly dismantling of the single currency, has suffered from a perception that some members have ties to the far-right. Its leaders reject such accusations and the party says it carefully vets new joiners to avoid such links.

Most polls put support for the AfD at 2-3 percent, short of the 5 percent needed to enter the Bundestag lower house.

Broad public approval for Merkel's handling of the euro zone crisis and a pro-European political consensus has stunted the appeal of an anti-euro party, especially at a time when fears about the euro zone crisis have retreated.

In other European countries, eurosceptic parties appear to be on the rise, and are expected to do well in European Parliament elections next June.

Support for the far-right National Front and radical left party of Jean-Luc Melanchon has been strong in France, while comic Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement shocked traditional parties with a good performance in an Italian election earlier this year.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Noah Barkin)