Ex-Green politician quits over sexual assault

The prominent ex-politician for the Greens in Austria, Peter Pilz, has resigned his seat in parliament following accusations that he sexually harassed female colleagues on dozens of occasions. Pilz was widely regarded as one of the key left-wing opposition politicians in the parliament, which he entered after founding his own party. Some observers praise his move while others criticise that he still hasn't apologised properly for his behaviour.

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Die Presse (AT) /

Pilz has created a precedent

With his withdrawal from politics following accusations of sexual assault the former politician for the Greens in Austria has set a new standard, Die Presse comments approvingly:

“Pilz has - whether intentionally or unintentionally - created a precedent. Anyone who harasses other sexually will have to go - not just former Green politicians who formed their own party. And that's a good thing because only if the consequences are sufficiently unpleasant will long-tolerated behaviour change. All of us, whether perpetrators or victims, do cost-benefit analyses in our heads. So far the risks in cases of sexual harassment were unfairly distributed: the victims remained silent out of embarrassment and fear of the reactions. The perpetrators could rely on their silence.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Trivialising sexual harassment

As well as resigning Der Standard would have liked to see ex-Green politician Peter Pilz apologise for his behaviour:

“'No doubt I did something wrong there' is neither an admission of guilt nor a request for forgiveness but the very kind of playing down of sexual harassment that makes this debate so difficult and unpleasant. By presenting himself as a victim of political intrigue and putting the sexual harassment of women on a par with political incorrectness he has trivialised the incident. This is a typically but not exclusively male approach and by no means a helpful contribution to the already awkward debate over how to deal with sexual harassment and sexual violence.”