PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party has barred a Muslim woman from running for as candidate on its ticket in a local election after she wore an Islamic headscarf for a photo that appeared on a campaign flier. La Republique en Marche said the party line was that in secular France there should be no place for the overt display of religious symbols on electoral campaign documents. “This woman will not be an En Marche candidate,” Stanislas Guerini, the party’s general secretary, told RTL radio. French law does not prohibit the wearing of the hijab or other religious symbols in images that appear on campaign fliers. The episode illustrates how sensitive a subject the place of Islam in France has become ahead of next year’s presidential vote, with the main challenge to a Macron re-election bid coming from the far right. Macron has warned of the growing threat of Islamist separatism in France.The affair erupted after Jordan Bardella, the number 2 in the far-right Rassemblement National party of Marine Le Pen, tweeted a copy of the flier with the post: “Is this how you fight separatism?” En Marche candidate,” Guerini responded, demanding either the flier be withdrawn or the candidate Sara Zemmahi lose support. Zemmahi or her associates could not be reached. FacebookTwitterLinkedinEMail
A Tory candidate to be a police and crime commissioner (PCC) has withdrawn on the eve of counting after it emerged he had a 30-year-old conviction for drink-driving.Jonathon Seed has been debarred from becoming a PCC due to a historical driving offence that had come to light, the Conservative party said in a statement.Counting is due to begin in Salisbury on Monday morning, but another election will need to be held if Seed comes first.The councillor said he was “bitterly disappointed” to have to withdraw his candidacy to be Wiltshire’s PCC. He said he had declared the offence to his party and had believed he was still able to stand. However, the retired army major said that he had “now been advised this is not the case”.“To the best of my knowledge and belief when I applied for, and became the police and crime commissioner candidate for the Conservative party in Wiltshire and Swindon, I was an eligible candidate. I have declared my 30-year-old driving conviction to the party in my applications both to be a parliamentary candidate and more recently a PCC candidate. Party officials confirmed my belief that my offence did not disqualify me,” he said in a statement.Seed, who was regarded as having been in a strong position to win the election, had written in a blog post about how he wanted the main causes of fatalities in road traffic collisions to be addressed. As part of this, he pledged to provide funding to support road safety schemes such as Safe Drive Stay Alive to address speeding, drink-driving, drug driving, mobile phone use while driving and not wearing a seatbelt.He faced competition from four other candidates in the race to succeed his Conservative colleague Angus Macpherson as PCC in a post that involves holding Wiltshire police to account, overseeing a budget and setting its priorities.Seed’s campaign had also come under pressure from opponents of hunting. He had faced an RSPCA private prosecution in 2012 under the Hunting Act – but it did not proceed through lack of evidence and the charity was criticised afterwards.Published guidance from the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners set out the grounds on which a candidate might be disqualified from becoming a PCC, or from continuing as a PCC once in office. They include when they have been convicted of an imprisonable offence.In 2012, a Labour candidate to become an elected police and crime commissioner was forced to step down from the contest because, 46 years previously, he had been fined £5 for two minor offences.Bob Ashford, who has Whitehall security clearance and has been director of strategy for the Youth Justice Board for the past 10 years, was told by the Home Office and Electoral Commission that his conviction, at the age of 13 in 1966, was enough to bar him from standing for the post of commissioner.
Madrid premier Isabel Diaz Ayuso, a fierce critic of Covid-19 lockdowns, secured a major victory in Spain’s regional elections, prompting the head of the left-wing Podemos to end his political career after taking fifth place.
With more than 99% of the ballots counted late on Tuesday night, Ayuso’s People’s Party took 45% of the vote, or 65 seats in the regional legislature, just four shy of an outright majority. Doubling its share of the vote compared to the last race in 2019, the People’s Party is expected to enter into a coalition with the right-wing Vox Party, which itself took fourth place with 9% of the vote.“Freedom has won in Madrid, once again,” Ayuso told supporters after her win, echoing a campaign slogan, while People’s Party leader Pablo Casado said voters “trusted [Ayuso’s] handling of the pandemic.”The premier’s campaign was fueled in no small part by her opposition to lockdowns, appealing to voters weary of draconian restrictions while refusing to shutter bars and restaurants during the health crisis. Tuesday’s race dealt a blow to leftist factions, seeing the Socialist Workers’ Party slip 10 points and 11 seats compared to 2019, tying with the progressive Mas Madrid. In fifth place behind Vox came Podemos, a left-of-center party founded in 2014 in opposition to European austerity policies. Though it gained three additional seats, the relatively poor showing led Podemos founder Pablo Iglesias to declare his exit from politics, saying “We have failed; we were very far from putting together a sufficient majority.”
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“I am not a political figure who can contribute to our political force or help consolidate its institutional strength,” Iglesias added.Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez – a leading member of the Socialist Workers’ Party whose Covid-19 policies were frequently slammed by Ayuso – took to Twitter late on Tuesday night to acknowledge her win. “The polls have given Ayuso a great result and, above all, a great responsibility. Congratulations,” he said. “The [Socialist Workers] will always be ready to work for a better Madrid and turn its votes into a force for the future for the region and its people.”The election campaign in Madrid, Spain’s capital and a city of 7 million, has been fraught with heated rhetoric and at times threats of violence, with several candidates, including Ayuso and Iglesias, receiving death threats from opponents. In early April, a regional office for Podemos was hit with a firebomb, prompting Iglesias to blame the “far right,” calling the attack “street terrorism.” A party spokesman claimed it was the sixth time a Podemos office was targeted by vandals.
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