25 Apr, 2023 @ 13:30
1 min read

Mayoral hopeful on Spain’s Tenerife struggles to shake off sex shop photo controversy

Election campaign in Tenerife

TIME WAS when politicians on the campaign trail would resort to ‘handshaking and baby kissing’ in order to garner public support and get themselves voted into office. A hopeful for the mayor’s office in Tenerife, however, opted for a more novel strategy – but it’s one that has proved to be somewhat controversial. 

Last week, Carlos Tarife of the conservative Popular Party (PP), who is standing for mayor in the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, posed for a photo in a local sex shop with two of the owners. While they held up the campaign leaflets featuring his face, he opted to brandish one of the products in the store: a rather large rubber penis. 

Since then, Tarife has been struggling to shake off the controversy caused by the photo, which was shared by the women from the Besos Prohibidos store online. 

Election campaign in Tenerife
Carlos Tarife poses in the shop with a sex toy. Twitter

‘I’ve been getting messages all afternoon because of a photo,’ he wrote last week on his Facebook page. ‘You’d have to be pretty backward to be wasting time by sending out this simple photo,’ he said in response to the criticism he received from citizens and other political parties ahead of the elections on May 28. 

But according to radio network Cadena SER, a residents’ association in Tenerife, Alianza de Vecinos de Tenerife, also called on him to apologise for using the word ‘backward’ after they voiced their criticism of the photo. Tarife responded by making clear he was not referring to them.

On Monday, Tarife spoke to Cadena SER and insisted that he has ‘no problem going into all of the sex shops in the capital,’ slamming the fact that he had been so widely criticised for something that he considered to be an innocent action.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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