One of Austria’s best-known politicians said he would give up his seat in parliament over an allegation of sexual assault.
Veteran left-wing lawmaker Peter Pilz, 63, made a name for himself railing against arms deals with countries accused of human rights abuses and leading investigations into corruption. Most recently, he left the Greens to form his own party, Pilz List, which unlike the Greens passed the 4% threshold for entering parliament.
However, the weekly newspaper Falter reported on November 4 that Pilz had repeatedly groped a female employee of the centre-right European People’s Party during a conference in the Alps four years ago. The article included her description of the incident. She said Pilz was “relatively drunk” at the time.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Pilz said he could not remember what happened.
“Not remembering is no excuse,” Pilz told a news conference, adding that Falter’s editor in chief had assured him the report was thoroughly researched.
“Because of these accusations, which I take extremely seriously, even though I do not remember, I will not take up my mandate in the coming parliament. I will not be at the swearing-in ceremony on Thursday,” he said.
Pilz’ resignation comes in the wake of the Weinstein scandal and the resignations over inappropriate behaviour that have followed, including that of British Defence Minister Michael Fallon last week.