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Sadiq Khan wins the London mayoral elections, becoming its first Muslim mayor

Today the new Mayor of London is elected. British billionaire Goldsmith and bus driver’s son of Pakistani origin Khan are running for the position.

Update – 6 May, 14:40. According to local media, Labour’s candidate Sadiq Khan obtained around 44 per cent of the votes, against 35 per cent of Conservative Zac Goldsmith in the London mayoral elections. The counting is still under way but Khan appears to be clearly ahead. The 45-year-old progressive candidate is going to succeed Boris Johnson in the lead of the capital of the United Kingdom.

 


 

 

One of the two principle candidates is a bus driver’s son of Pakistani origin who grew up in London’s suburbs and is supported by  groups such as young people. The other is the heir of a multi-billionaire and is supported by the city’s establishment, outgoing Mayor Boris Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron. The candidates running for London’s elections couldn’t be any different from one another. On the May 5th the name of the person who will govern one of Europe’s most important cities will be revealed: Labour Party candidate Sadiq Khan or Conservative Zac Goldsmith.

Who the candidates are

Khan is a lawyer who devoted his career to defending human rights. He took legal actions against the police in order to protect labour rights as well as fight discrimination. He grew up with his seven brothers and his sister in South London. His mother has been a seamstress all her life, his father was a bus driver. After embarking on a career as a legal expert, he became Britain’s first Muslim Minister (when Gordon Brown was in power).

 

Goldsmith is son of British billionaire James. His destiny seems written: he was born in one of the poshest neighbourhoods in the city. He attended the prestigious Eton College and then Cambridge, before he became a journalist and politician. “But my background doesn’t matter. I was chosen as a candidate for what I’ve achieved and the programme I’ve proposed for London”, he told French daily Le Monde.

 

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The two candidates running for Mayor of London, Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan, during a debate © Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The two programmes

How do the candidates imagine the future of the UK’s capital? Khan explained that “London isn’t the city that gave my siblings and I big opportunities anymore”. Today suburbs are too isolated, in every way, from the heart of the city.

 

For this reason one of the Labour candidate’s main proposals is to create a new public transport network. A modern and affordable network even for the less well-off. Homes are another priority in Khan’s programme: “We need to build cheap houses and stop aiming to design luxury apartments for rich foreigners”.

 

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Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan shaking hands with each other in one of London’s squares © Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images

 

Houses are a huge problem considering that from 2008 to now London’s population increased by 900,000 units (today the population has reached 8.6 million inhabitants). For this reason, Goldsmith’s programme is also based on building new houses: the Conservative candidate said he wants to build 50,000 new dwellings by 2020. But he didn’t say what kind of homes he plans to build.

 

The programme of the rich heir also includes increasing street safety and cleanliness and the creation of new green spaces. Then he proposes not to raise the famous council tax on domestic property collected by the local authorities.

 

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Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith with outgoing Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron © Jack Taylor/Getty Images

According to polls, Khan is leading the race

But the two candidates aren’t different only in their political views. They’re also worlds apart personaliy-wise. Khan is less of a conformist, a smart alec and uses simple language during political meetings. Goldsmith seems more square and in line with the British style. He is also a Eurosckeptic, which may affect a potential British exit (the so-called “Brexit” referendum).

 

The polls on the eve of the consultation show that the Labour candidate is leading the race. So Khan could become the first Muslim Mayor in a major western capital. The other candidates include Liberal-Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, the Green Party’s Sian Berry and Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party. The result will be announced in just a few hours.

 

Featured  image: © Rob Stothard/Getty Images

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