Five unusual European election candidates

Celine Le Prioux with AFP bureaux
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Co-founder of European Diem25 movement and former Greek Finance Minister, Yianis Varoufakis, hopes favourable German electoral rules can help him win a seat

Co-founder of European Diem25 movement and former Greek Finance Minister, Yianis Varoufakis, hopes favourable German electoral rules can help him win a seat (AFP Photo/LOUISA GOULIAMAKI)

Brussels (AFP) - A Somali refugee standing as a Green in Britain, a jailed Catalan separatist and the former Greek finance minister running in Berlin are among the more unusual candidates for the European Parliament.

- German nemesis comes to Berlin -

At the height of the Greek crisis in 2015, finance minister Yanis Varoufakis was the bete noire of his hardline German counterpart Wolfgang Schaueble, who demanded drastic austerity in return for helping Athens.

Four years on, the iconoclastic economist is running for the European Parliament in Berlin for Democracy in Europe, a German political party that is part of DiEM25 -- the anti-establishment movement Varoufakis himself helped to launch in early 2016.

His poll numbers may be low but he chose to run in Germany hoping its favourable electoral rules will help him win a seat.

The 58-year-old is running a stealth campaign with few major public events but his group is pushing for a "green new deal" and -- in the interests of transparency -- the broadcasting of all meetings of European leaders and the European Central Bank (ECB).

- Another Mussolini -

Caio Giulio Cesare Mussolini is the second descendant of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to run for the European Parliament after Alessandra, his father's cousin, who has been an MEP since 2014.

The great-grandson of Italy's World War II leader, the former submariner is running for the small far-right Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy) party, which may not reach the threshold of four percent of votes needed to win a seat in Italy.

If elected, the 51-year-old has said he would abolish the European Parliament's seat in Strasbourg and give more power to MEPs.

- Somali refugee, Brit and Green -

Born in Somalia, Magid Magid moved to Britain as a child refugee and grew up in a poor neighbourhood in the northern city of Sheffield.

With his flamboyant sense of style and determination to reach young voters through social media, "Magic" Magid rose to prominence when he became the city's Lord Mayor in 2018.

Now a candidate for the Greens in the European Parliament, he says he wants to be the voice of young people and refugees, but his chances of being elected are very slim.

- Catalan separatist behind bars -

Former separatist Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras, who is in pre-trial detention in Spain, is the leader of the European regionalist parties group for the May 23 to 26 elections and therefore their candidate for the presidency of the European Commission.

He was able to stand for election because he has not yet been tried -- a conviction would have disqualified him. The 50-year-old former university professor, an MEP between 2009 and 2011, faces 25 years in prison for his role in Catalonia's October 2017 independence attempt.

Junqueras has gained some kudos for staying in Spain and going to jail -- unlike his rival for the leadership of the Catalan independence movement Carles Puigdemont, who fled to exile in Belgium.

- Polish transsexual -

Anna Grodzka broke new ground in staunchly Roman Catholic Poland when she was elected its first transsexual lawmaker in 2011.

The 65-year-old former filmmaker and publisher, who also made an unsuccessful presidential bid in 2015, is now running for the European Parliament with the left-wing Razem (Together) party.

Razem holds no seats in the Polish parliament and polls suggest its bid to the enter the European Parliament will be unsuccessful.

Grodzka is campaigning for an EU-wide minimum wage, coordinated labour and tax rules, as well as a financial transaction tax.

She co-founded the Trans-Fuzja foundation to counsel others like her and is also active in the LGBT Business Forum.