5/2/2008UK: Congestion Taxing Mayor Faces Defeat
Voters in London, UK may throw out the creator of the congestion charge.
London's controversial mayor faces the potential of electoral defeat today at the hands of a man who promised to scale back the congestion tax. Boris Johnson holds the slightest of leads against incumbent Mayor Ken Livingstone as nearly one-third of the votes cast have been counted. Livingstone had underestimated the threat posed by the former journalist and upstart Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party who dared to question Livingtone's signature achievement.
"Don't vote for a joke, vote for London," Livingstone's campaign message urged.
But Johnson insisted on reforming the £8 (US $16) congestion tax imposed on drivers entering the downtown area. Signed contracts make it impossible for a new mayor to abolish the tax completely.
"Ken Livingstone's £25 [US $50] levy will not improve congestion or emissions and will hit families and small businesses -- it is a stick with which to beat motorists which is why I will not introduce it," Johnson's campaign countered.
Nationally, the Labour Party was headed toward a significant defeat. In 2006, voters in Stockholm, Sweden unable to stop imposition of a congestion charge were successful in voting Mayor Annika Billstrom and her party out of office.