Sadiq Khan was elected Mayor of London on Friday, winning a majority of first-round votes. There were five major candidates for the position, but the two main contenders were Khan of the Labour Party and Zac Goldsmith of the Conservative Party.
With the results fully in, Khan had 56.8% of the vote to Goldsmith’s 43.2%. Khan needed to clear 50% in order to avoid a second ballot. He will succeed Mayor Boris Johnson, a member of the Conservative Party, who did not seek re-election. Johnson was elected to Parliament last year and has been in the news recently for his activism in favor of a “Brexit,” or Great Britain leaving the European Union. Johnson caused controversy when he said that President Obama returned the bust of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, a claim that has been throughly debunked, and then attributed it to Obama being “part-Kenyan.” Johnson also oversaw the 2012 Summer Olympics in London during his term.
Khan is a practicing Muslim and will be, upon his inauguration, the most prominent Muslim politician in the West and London’s first Muslim mayor. Khan is a practicing Muslim and does not drink alcohol in accordance with the religious law. However, he was hesitant to be defined solely as a Muslim, saying, “We all have multiple identities: I’m a Londoner, I’m British, I’m English, I’m of Asian origin, of Pakistani heritage, I’m a dad, I’m a husband, I’m a long-suffering Liverpool fan.”
The Conservatives, including Prime Minister David Cameron, attempted to make an issue out of Khan’s religion, however it backfired and drew criticism, even from members of the party. The most controversial element was an op-ed by Goldsmith in the Daily Mail with the headline, “On Thursday, are we really going to hand the world’s greatest city to a Labour party that thinks terrorists are its friends.” The accompanying photo was from the 7/7 terrorist attack that killed 52 people in 2005. Goldsmith later called the photo’s use “inappropriate.”
Goldsmith was the initial favorite in the race, but it eventually shifted towards Khan. The Conservatives’ tactics only worked to boost Khan and hurt Goldsmith.