Spain mayor in double “illegal” election campaign storm

LAST UPDATED: 27 May, 2007 @ 19:36
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ALMUNECAR mayor Juan Carlos Benavides is at the centre of an election controversy after allegations the council leader has been involved in two separate accounts of illegal campaigning.

First, Pablo Benavides – the director of local television channel Onda Tropical and son of the current mayor – has appeared before judges in the Costa Tropical town after allegations made by officials from the conservative Partido Popular (PP).
They claim the television channel aired a programme on May 24, 2003 – the “day of reflection” before voting the following day in that year’s local elections. Under Spanish television law, the broadcast of any political programme is illegal the day before and the day of an election.

Judges have heard how the programme contained highlights of the elder Benavides’ campaign and how it also criticised Almuñecar’s then ruling PP-PILH coalition.
Juan Carlos Benavides went on to win that year’s election to become mayor with the Partido Andalucista (PA) party he then represented.

Pablo Benavides denies any involvement in the decision to air the programme.

Now, the Junta Electoral election watchdog has forced Juan Carlos Benavides to take down posters advertising his candidacy for council leader in the coming local elections.

The move comes after a complaint by the socialist PSOE party that the publicity was illegal.

Under election laws in Spain, advertising space is divided according to the number of votes the political party to which a candidate belongs obtained in the previous local election.

Although Benavides won 2003s vote, he was with PA, the group he served before breaking away and forming Convergencia Andaluz in 2005.

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