The head of France’s Greens party resigned on Monday after he was accused by a former partner of “mental violence”, dealing another blow to the country’s beleaguered left-wing political coalition.
Julien Bayou, head of the Europe Ecology Greens party (EELV), said in a statement that he is stepping down due to the “unsustainable” nature of his position.
He has denied the charges and said he would remain an MP, adding that the decision does not question “my current or future commitment”.
The environmentalist came under pressure last week after fellow EELV lawmaker Sandrine Rousseau told a TV show that she had met Bayou’s former partner, who was “very depressed”.
Bayou “has behaviors that cause mental breakdowns in women,” Rousseau claimed.
The explosive allegations came amid a separate scandal surrounding the fellow left-wing party France Unbowed (LFI), where a high-ranking MP recently admitted to beating his wife during a breakup.
Rousseau has been criticized for publicly undermining a colleague over allegations about his private life that have not been reported to police.
Bayou called it “Kafka on social networks”, adding that he “has been accused of things not said (to me), which the prosecutors say are not punishable.”
An internal EELV committee investigating gender-based or sexual violence began an investigation into Bayou in July.
At the time, he said he was going through a “rupture that includes thinly veiled threats against me and a form of manipulation that I can only condemn.”
After years in the political wilderness, France’s left-wing parties have gathered in a coalition known as “Nupes” for the June parliamentary elections.
The alliance sparked hopes they could serve as a united opposition to President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist ruling alliance, but it has struggled to maintain a common front.
The head of the communist party, Fabien Roussel, publicly broke ranks with his partners in mid-September when he said that the left “should defend the idea of work and not be left of benefits and social security”.
Rousseau replied that “work was a value of the right”, adding that people “had a right to be lazy” and that the left should focus on shortening the work week.
Allegations of harassment and assault are rife in French politics, surfacing regularly since the #MeToo movement against sexual violence began in 2017.
In July, Damien Abad, a right-wing minister appointed as a minister in Macron’s newly installed centrist government, was forced to resign over rape allegations.