UK local elections test Sunak's leadership

UK local elections test Sunak's leadership

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces his final test before the UK general election scheduled for later this year. More than 2,600 councilors – less than 20% of the total – are due to be elected today in 107 municipal governments in England, as well as 37 police commissioners and ten mayors, including the City of London. The outcome of this election will be crucial in gauging the support Sunak enjoys among voters almost two years after he was appointed prime minister, and confidence within his party.

The latest opinion polls confirm the upward trend of the Labor Party, which actually obtained a good result in the recent local elections held last year to elect more than 8,000 councillors. The election returned it once again as the party with the largest number of representatives for the first time since 2002, with 35% of the total, compared to 33% for the Conservative Party. Labor has won more than 500 councilors this time, and looks set to widen that lead after today's election, with “significant victories” in the north and center of the country, according to the latest YouGov poll.

The main focus will be on the two large council offices still in Conservative hands, in the West Midlands – which includes the city of Birmingham – and the Tees Valley, in north-east England. Both mayors tried to distance themselves from their party in an attempt to win re-election, although opinion polls predict a close result in both cases. In addition to objecting to Conservative votes in these two mayoralties, as well as in the three newly created mayoralties, Labor expects to retain power in the five major metropolitan areas they already control, including Liverpool, Manchester and London.

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In the case of the British capital, the latest opinion polls give the current mayor, Sadiq Khan of the Labor Party, a comfortable lead over Conservative Susan Hall. According to the YouGov poll, Khan will receive 47% of the votes, compared to 25% for his main competitor, which will open the door to a third term at the head of the Greater London Authority, one of the most powerful institutions in the country. The country, with an annual budget of more than 20 thousand million pounds sterling (23 thousand million euros). Khan, the son of Pakistani immigrants, has been one of the most critical voices within the Labor Party regarding the Israeli bombing of Gaza, and this has won him support among the Muslim population.

If he loses the two key municipal offices still in Conservative hands and repeats last year's electoral defeat – with the loss of more than 1,000 councillors – Sunak is expected to face a new internal rebellion in his party.

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