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German Greens’ Trittin Hit in Yoghurt Attack, Police Says

A masked man splattered German Greens parliamentary leader Juergen Trittin with yoghurt after jumping on stage during a panel discussion on nuclear power.

The suspect, dressed in a white body suit, fled after the attack late yesterday in the city of Hanover, according to a statement on the police website. Trittin, 56, wasn’t hurt and left the podium after the attack, police said.

The opposition Greens have soared to a record in polls as voters desert Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government amid public disputes between the coalition parties over policy from tax cuts to health care. Trittin was pictured on the front page of the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper today under the headline “Trittin Could Be Chancellor.”

The Greens are leading opposition to Merkel’s plans to extend the running time of Germany’s 17 nuclear reactors beyond a phase-out date of about 2022. Backing rose two percentage points to 24 percent in a weekly Forsa poll published yesterday, putting the Greens even with the Social Democrats. With 48 percent support, the two parties could topple Merkel if elections were held now. The Greens ruled as junior coalition partner under Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder from 1998 to 2005, when the nuclear phase-out was approved.

The event in Hanover was part of a nine-day anti-nuclear festival that includes music, theater and puppet performances. When the host condoned the attack, Trittin got up and left, the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper reported.

“This is no basis for me to have a discussion,” Trittin was heard saying in video broadcast on N-TV television. Images showed the back of his suit jacket spattered with white.

The attacker used yoghurt inside what may have been a cake, Hanover police spokeswoman Katrin Meier-Ziegenbein said by telephone. Police are looking for the assailant, she said.

In 1999, an antiwar protester flung a bag of red paint at Greens leader Joschka Fischer, then Germany’s vice chancellor and foreign minister, during a party convention debating NATO’s airstrikes on Yugoslavia in the war over Kosovo. Fischer suffered a perforated eardrum.

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