The start of the Greens’ EU election campaign with co-leader Ricarda Lang in Würzburg was primarily focused on the fight against right-wing extremism and physical attacks on election workers. The event at the market passed without incident. But hatred is also fermenting in the “European city”.

Anyone who came to disrupt or even cause a ruckus at the start of the Greens’ EU election campaign with Ricarda Lang in Würzburg must have realized after a few glances around the stage that this would not be an easy undertaking on Monday evening. At least three dozen police officers were clearly visible on the access roads to the market square in temperatures that were almost mid-summer. And the stage, including the barrier, was guarded from several sides.

The recent attacks on election workers and politicians in various German cities have alarmed the security authorities; the police presence should be an unmistakable deterrent from the outset.

Shortly after the official start at 7:30 p.m. there were between 150 and 200 spectators who came to the market square to see and hear the co-leader of the Green Party along with state and city celebrities from the Green Party.

And even though the guests had to wait half an hour for Ricarda Lang to speak, there were two main topics that dominated every speech at this start of the EU election campaign: the fight against right-wing extremism and the increasing violent attacks on campaign workers and politicians.

Apart from a few election posters being torn down, the election campaign in Würzburg has so far remained uneventful, explained Green City Councilor Matthias Pilz, who was in charge of a Green Party campaign stand on the market square. “But aggressiveness against politicians is also increasing here. “This was noticeable in the state election campaign last year and particularly affected left-wing politicians,” he told FOCUS online. Bavaria’s first “climate mayor” Martin Heilig also confirms the trend. “The threat of violence has noticeably increased. So much so that events sometimes had to be moved from outside to inside,” said the Green during his campaign kick-off speech in Würzburg, which has had the honorary title of “European City” since 1973.

There has been no physical violence yet. But at a citizens’ meeting some time ago against a parking proposal from the Greens, he became quite uneasy. “If pitchforks had been handed out at the event, we wouldn’t have gotten out of there alive,” Heilig remembers.

For party leader Ricarda Lang, however, the upcoming EU elections are a “directional election” – with a view to the AfD’s possible electoral success. “When I said in the last one or two years that our country needs courage and confidence, it wasn’t easy and sounded stale.” Something has changed, in which several well-known AfD politicians also took part. “Suddenly hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets all over Germany and showed with their protest that the majority are against right-wing extremism.”

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The 30-year-old party leader explained that the EU elections on June 9th are also a landmark election with regard to climate policy. The fact that Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) reduces this to the question of ‘climate or prosperity’ is ridiculous. “There is no longer any prosperity on a planet that is no longer habitable,” said Lang. In addition to Söder, she also sharply attacked CDU leader Friedrich Merz and CSU politician Manfred Weber, who chairs the EPP group in the EU Parliament. “Merz, Söder and Weber are questioning the ‘Green Deal’ that EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pushed through,” explained Lang.

The deal, which the CDU politician presented as a concept to the Commission in 2019, provides for a series of regulations in, among other things, the financial market, energy policy and transport, which are intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the EU to zero by 2050. “Who’s going to pay for that?” shouted an angry Würzburger from the crowd towards the stage. On the sidelines of the event, an older gentleman was annoyed that the Greens “completely lacked economic understanding”. This can be seen, for example, in the speed with which the ban on combustion engines for motor vehicles should be implemented. This is causing difficulties for the auto industry, while sales of electric cars have stalled sharply.

When asked these days about how exactly the Greens want to get Germany’s stuttering economic engine running again, the Green Party leader failed to provide any concrete suggestions. And she referred to US President Joe Biden when she said that a functioning economy and climate protection are not mutually exclusive. “He said that climate protection means new jobs.”

As far as attacks on election workers are concerned, these are “not attacks on individuals from a party, but an attack on democracy,” said Lang. What is particularly important in this EU election is to ensure that right-wing extremist forces like the AfD do not become even stronger. Right-wing extremists thrive on the fear of their opponents, who would be intimidated. Right-wing extremists “live off the fear of others” and are not interested in solving problems. “That’s the reason why they fight us Greens so intensively,” Lang continued.

And then the Green Party leader makes an announcement to all the Green Party haters who have made the Green Party their enemy: “We will not allow ourselves to be silenced. Even if they throw stones at us, we will not stop fighting and protecting democracy.” Lang expressly thanked the police and the Federal Criminal Police Office for “securing this event” and received a lot of applause from the audience.

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