Scottish Parliament election still expected to go ahead despite new Covid-19 strain

The Scottish Parliamentary elections due to take place in the first week of May are still expected to go ahead as planned despite a new, highly contagious strain of Covid-19.

The Holyrood election is still expected to go ahead on May6
The Holyrood election is still expected to go ahead on May6

Nicola Sturgeon said her “hope and expectation” is the election will go ahead as planned despite the recent Covid-19 developments.

The First Minister pointed towards contingency measures due to be approved by the Scottish Parliament as one potential way the election could take place.

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The legislation includes the potential for delaying the election by up to six months if it is deemed necessary.

Ms Sturgeon said: “My hope and expectation to be clear is that it will go ahead as planned.

"As far as possible we want to allow our democratic processes to be unaffected, certainly in the sense that they are not postponed or unaffected in any way.

"As you know we’ve taken legislation through parliament, I think it goes to its final stage in Parliament this week, which contains contingency arrangements which are up to and including postponement but things short of that that would be there if considered necessary.

"But it is not just the government that can decide on this, the electoral management board and the parliament as a whole would have to be in agreement to those things.”

Among the other potential contingency plans include the poll being held over several days with different age groups voting at different times to avoid the spread of Covid-19.

The poll could also be conducted entirely by postal vote.

The SNP are considered heavy favourites at the Holyrood 2021 elections with recent polling putting them around 25 points ahead of the closes challengers the Scottish Conservatives.

A Savanta ComRes poll for The Scotsman showed support for the SNP converting to 71 MSPs and an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament.

Opposition parties such as Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservatives are hovering around the 20 per cent vote share mark which would see the overall number of seats for those parties drop.

Many campaigners in the independence movement argue an overwhelming vote for independence supporting parties would be enough to demand a second referendum from the UK Government.

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