The Mayor of Copenhagen has resigned with immediate effect after admitting to several allegations of sexual harassment.
Frank Jensen, who had served as mayor since 2010, also stepped down from his position as deputy of Denmark’s governing Social Democratic Party.
His resignation came after two women, including a former employee of the party, described being sexually harassed by Jensen in 2012 and 2017, in an article by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
Both incidents were said to have taken place at social events and involved Jensen touching the women against their will.
In a Facebook post, Jensen apologised to the women he had violated and pledged to be part of a changing society in Denmark.
“I myself have been part of a bad, unhealthy, but also old and rooted culture in our party.”
“I’ve been a part of the problem myself. I want to help create the necessary change” Jensen said.
“I will do anything to ensure that we get together across gender, parties, unions, and business to change our entire community culture.
“We’ve only just begun. I want to go from being a part of the problem to being a part of the solution.”
The Chairman of the young Social Democrats in Copenhagen, Cecilie Sværke Preiss, said the resignation was a victory for Denmark’s delayed #MeToo movement.
“Today we have proven that it has consequences – also for a mayor – not to be aware of his power and thus his responsibility,” tweeted Sværke Priess.
Meanwhile, Denmark’s Minister for Gender Equality, Mogens Jensen, said his colleague’s resignation was “tough but also necessary”.
In 2017, in the middle of #MeToo, several women had denounced harassment, mainly in Danish cultural circles, but the movement had not taken off.
The conversation about sexism and sexual abuse in Denmark was sparked in August by TV journalist Sofie Linde and has since spread to politics, though nearly three years after the #MeToo movement.
More than 300 women, including current and former members of political parties, signed an open letter in September in support of Linde, saying that sexism was alive in Danish politics.
Earlier this month, the leader of the Radical Left, Morten Østergaard, also resigned from his post after several accusations of sexual abuse within the party.
“I’m not the victim of an important #Metoo debate,” Østergaard posted on Facebook, “I might hope to be a stepstone for it to lead to change.”
Prime Minister Frederiksen said she took the latest allegations “very seriously”.
“It is obvious that we in the Social Democratic Party have problems, and that needs to change now.”
But the Prime Minister also argued that the #MeToo movement should be discussed “on a proper basis” rather than through the media.
“The Metoo movement has started an important and necessary discussion,” Fredriksen said on Facebook.
“It should not be the media’s presentation that decides the outcome of a case.”
The next municipal elections in Denmark are to held in November 2021.