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Scottish Parliament elections look set to be delayed – raising doubts about Senedd poll

10 Jan 2021 3 minutes Read
The West Clwyd and Aberconwy Count for the National Assembly Election 5 May 2016. Picture by Llywelyn2000 (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Elections in Scotland this year may be delayed as a result of the new surge in Covid-19 cases, raising doubts that the Senedd poll in May will go ahead on time.

According to the Times newspaper, senior figures in the SNP consider the May 6 Scottish Parliament election date “increasingly unrealistic” due to restrictions related to coronavirus in Scotland.

Earlier this week it was revealed that the local elections in England were also “likely” to be put back until the summer or autumn.

If elections in Scotland and England are delayed it will put pressure on the Welsh Government to follow suit, particularly as Covid rates in parts of Wales are some of the highest in Britain.

The Welsh Government are already planning a new law which would allow the Presiding Officer to delay elections in Wales by up to six months if need be. However, the Conservative Party remains opposed to the move.

Commenting on the likely delay in the Scottish elections, one leading SNP parliamentarian told the Times newspaper: “It’s a really difficult one. If other countries can do it then why can’t we? However, we are rightly cautious in the face of the pandemic and we should not be any less cautious in examining this.”

One leading Scottish Tory MSP said: “If England postpones elections because of the virus it would be very strange indeed to see the poll here going ahead.”

There are also concerns over the potential impact of daily television briefings on Covid continuing to go ahead during the final weeks of the election.

 

‘Badly needed’

Earlier this week First Minister Mark Drakeford said he wanted to “allow some flexibility” but said he remains “committed” to the 6 May polling date.

“I remain committed to a Senedd election in May of this year,” Mr Drakeford told BBC Wales.

“But in the circumstances we face it is simply responsible to put on the statute book a bill that would allow some flexibility in that date should that be necessary and we’ll embark on that process early in the coming term.

“The Senedd badly needs an election. We have to do it in circumstances that are safe and don’t prevent people from going to the polling booths.”

Organisers had already confirmed that the counting of votes for May’s Senedd election will not take place until the day after the polls close because of the pandemic.

Organisers have decided not to count votes overnight “due to the Covid-19 restrictions that are expected to be in place” at the time.

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