A candidate for the Senedd elections in May has raised concerns about whether candidates will be able to campaign effectively if Covid-19 restrictions are still in place.
Liberal Democrat candidate Cadan ap Tomos said that he did not want to see the election delayed but there was a question as to whether incumbent candidates would be at an unfair advantage.
He will be contesting Ceredigion where the Llywydd, Elin Jones, will be standing again for Plaid Cymru. The Liberal Democrats came second in 2016’s Senedd election but third in 2019’s General Election.
“There must be a level playing-held for candidates, too,” Cadan ap Tomos wrote in the Western Mail. “During periods of lockdown, incumbent MSs have been legitimately able to travel to and within the whole area they represent as part of their duties.
“If, because of local lockdowns, candidates can’t travel to parts of their constituency or region for even some of this year, they are at a real disadvantage compared to those seeking re-election.”
Cadan ap Tomos also raised concerns about whether coronavirus restrictions would allow door to door campaigning and hustings.
“While there’s been a lot of talk about the act of voting itself, a glaring omission from the debate so far is the need to make sure every person in Wales – voters and candidates alike – can fairly take part in the democratic process,” he said.
“In places like Ceredigion, the tradition of attending hustings to question your candidates remains strong. In my experience, they’re particularly popular among older people who are less likely to feel comfortable answering the door to canvassers.
“Given restrictions on indoor gatherings will likely still be in place in the spring, these events will probably now take place online. That’s good news for some, but risks shutting a significant portion of the public out of these opportunities – especially older people and those in rural areas, two groups known to have high rates of digital exclusion.”
He said that while he did not want to see the election delayed “this is something which should be considered.”
“It will have been five years since the people of Wales last had their say on who represents and governs us, and extending what is already a long term of office will naturally cause worry,” he said.
“But these are extraordinary times and call for extraordinary measures. As we make these decisions, all I ask is we make sure the next Senedd elections are not just conducted safely, but fairly, too.”