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East German landlords 'stop renting to politicians, fearing attacks'

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East German landlords 'stop renting to politicians, fearing attacks'
A vanadalized Die Linke office in Thuringia. Photo: DPA
15:55 CET+01:00
Politicians from Die Linke (the Left Party) and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) are struggling to find homes and office space in the febrile political atmosphere of eastern Germany, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Susanne Schaper, a politician for Die Linke in the state parliament in Saxony, hasn't had a constituency office since October.

Neo-Nazis attacked her office in Chemnitz, throwing paint-filled light bulbs through the windows and scrawling “I love national socialism” across the wall.

Her landlord cancelled her contract on the property in October 2016. Since then she has not managed to find new premises, but has been rejected ten times.

Schaper understands that landlords are afraid their properties could be burnt to the ground, but told the Süddeustche Zeitung (SZ) that it is “a completely wrong signal to send.”

The Linke politician is far from the only elected official in eastern Germany who has gone through such an experience.

Frauke Petry, the leader of the AfD, struggled to find an apartment in her constituency of Leipzig, with landlords also fearing damage to their properties.

In Saxony, a state on the border with the Czech Republic and Poland, Die Linke recorded 45 attacks on their offices last year, while the AfD reported 32.

In the states of former East Germany, Die Linke, which is situated on the far-left of the political mainstream, and the AfD, situated on the far right, are much more popular than in the former West.

Die Linke are the major party in the ruling coalition in the state of Thuringia, while in state elections in 2016 the AfD won over 20 percent of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Both parties are controversial due to heir histories and political stances. Die Linke grew out of the SED, the ruling party in totalitarian East Germany.

The AfD are strongly anti-refugee. Petry suggested last year that immigrants could be shot if they cross Germany's borders illegally. 

The state parliament in Dresden has created a fund in response to the growing violence against parliamentarians. Every year it is providing €100,000 to politicians to pay for the costs of damages, as insurers will no longer cover them.

It has also started providing training on how to better protect offices and homes against attacks. According to the SZ, the response has been enormous.

In September the government published a report warning that growing xenophobia and right-wing extremism could threaten peace in eastern Germany.

"Right-wing extremism in all forms poses a very serious threat to the societal and economic development" of eastern Germany, the report stated.

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