German Lawmaker Files Incitement Complaint Against Wagenknecht

(Bloomberg) -- A German conservative lawmaker has filed a legal complaint against Sahra Wagenknecht of the far-left BSW party alleging comments she made about him at a campaign rally last month amount to incitement.

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In her speech to around 300 people in the western city of Saarbruecken on May 27, Wagenknecht, the party co-leader, called for action to be taken to halt Christian Democrat Roderich Kiesewetter’s efforts to promote military support for the government in Kyiv.

Kiesewetter’s backing for Ukraine using German—supplied weapons to target Russia risked “bringing the war to Germany,” she said, adding: “That’s madness. You have to stop people like that. You can’t let them continue.”

Five days later, Kiesewetter, who served in the German armed forces, was attacked by a man at a CDU campaign event in the south-western region of Baden-Wuerttemberg and sustained minor injuries.

The man, who according to authorities is a follower of anti-establishment conspiracy theories, called the 60-year-old Kiesewetter a “warmonger” and knocked him to the ground. Kiesewetter later said in a post on X he was fine and would not let the attack divert him from his support for Ukraine.

The information about Kiesewetter filing a complaint was provided by a spokesperson who asked not to be identified by name for security reasons. Kiesewetter declined to comment, citing ongoing investigations.

The assault was the latest incidence of violence in German politics, where tensions have been rising ahead of Sunday’s European Parliament elections.

On Friday, a 25-year-old Afghan-born man went on a rampage with a knife at a campaign event in Mannheim and injured six people, including a 29-year-old policeman who has since died.

Authorities last month detained a 74-year-old man suspected of carrying out an attack on a Berlin state minister and former mayor. Franziska Giffey, a member of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats, was struck from behind on the head and neck with a bag filled with hard contents and suffered minor injuries.

Scholz led condemnations a few days earlier after a member of the European Parliament for the SPD was seriously injured in the eastern city of Dresden while putting up campaign posters.

According to the spokesperson, Kiesewetter has filed similar charges against Wagenknecht’s husband, Oskar Lafontaine — a former SPD chairman who briefly served as finance minister under Gerhard Schroeder in 1998-99.

Lafontaine, who spoke in Saarbruecken immediately after Wagenknecht, told the crowd that “crazy people” like Kiesewetter should be put “behind bars” because of what he termed his support for war.

The 80-year-old accused Kiesewetter of actively seeking conflict with Russia and risking a third global war.

Caroline Heptner, a BSW spokeswoman, said that Wagenknecht and Lafontaine had simply been trying to encourage supporters to “strengthen or stop certain positions with their vote.”

To accuse the two politicians of anything beyond that is “perfidious and outrageous,” Heptner said by email.

They “have repeatedly stated that the increasing violence against politicians — regardless of party — is a major problem and is of great concern to us.”

BSW stands for Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht and was co-founded by her in January when she completed her split from the far-left Linke party.

It polls on around 7% on a national basis, but its share of the vote is about twice as big in the former communist eastern states where she hails from.

Lafontaine was the victim of a knife attack in April 1990 when running as the SPD’s candidate for chancellor. At an election rally in Cologne, a mentally disturbed woman stabbed him in the neck, narrowly missing his carotid artery.

--With assistance from Karin Matussek.

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