Copenhagen’s Mayor Frank Jensen has announced that he will resign and step away from politics after a series of sexual harassment accusations, Danish Radio reported.
“With the great media pressure that is now, it will overshadow my work. I would like to have ended my political life in a different way, it goes without saying,” Jensen said during a press conference. “I've been a violator. For over 30 years I have been part of a culture where women have been abused,” he added, apologising to his victims.
Jensen, the deputy leader of the ruling Social Democrats party, announced his resignation after nearly a decade years in office, despite previously signalling his intention to continue on as mayor of the Danish capital. Jensen's resignation therefore poses a grave problem for the Social Democrats in terms of leadership and reputational losses.
A slew of reports detailing inappropriate conduct and sexual harassment by Jensen towards party colleagues, municipal officials and media figures has emerged in recent days. It all started with the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten publishing detailed accounts of regular harassment spanningregular intervals since 2004. In the follow-up, the leader of the Copenhagen section of the Social Democrats’ youth wing, Cecilie Sværke Priess, detailed numerous harassment cases involving Jensen and called for the mayor to leave his assignments.
The accounts and accusations include Jensen touching women's inner thighs and legs, licking women's necks and ears at a Christmas party under the influence of alcohol, and giving unsolicited kisses.
Although the Social Democratic majority at Copenhagen City Hall said it fully supported Jensen, other parts of the Danish ruling party, including its youth wing, called for him to step back from his leadership position, and they were backed by the SD's allied parties.
Prime Minister and Social Democrats leader Mette Frederiksen admitted that the party has problems that must be addressed.
“I take the accusations that have emerged very seriously. It is obvious that we have some problems within the party that we must address,” Frederiksen said, stressing that harassment and violations are indefensible and that the party must create a zero-tolerance culture. Equality Minister Mogens Jensen, who is also deputy chairman of the Social Democrats, called Frank Jensen's resignation a “tough but necessary decision”.
Despite his retreat from politics, Jensen, an influential figure both locally in Copenhagen and nationally for the Social Democrats, holds a number of other posts including board positions with the Rockwool Foundation and municipal employer interest organisation KL. He also chairs Udbetaling Danmark, the national administrator of the country’s social security system.
Jensen is the latest trophy scalp claimed by the reignited #MeToo movement, that has already ended the careers of several politicians. Last week, Morten Østergaard, the leader of the Social Liberals, resigned after admitting his complicity in sexual harassment within the party.
In another case, Justice Minister Jeppe Kofod admitted and expressed regret about having sex with a 15-year-old girl from the Social Democrats youth wing.