Holyrood elections 'should go ahead', says Nicola Sturgeon

The Holyrood elections “should go ahead” in May, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said that around 70 countries had held elections since the pandemic began a year ago.

Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday, she said “My view on this and it has been my view all along, is that if it’s at all possible, the elections should go ahead.

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"We’re in a democracy and it’s right that people, perhaps even more so in a crisis, get the chance to cast the verdict on the government that is running the country and whether they want to see them through coronavirus or not and I think it is important to have this.”

Nicola Sturgeon has vowed the Holyrood election will go ahead

Ms Sturgeon said any change to the decision to run the election would be a cross-party decision, but added that changes would have to be made to ensure that all aspects of campaigning and the election day itself were Covid safe.

She said: “Assuming it does go ahead, it’s not going to be an election as normal, in that we are not going to be campaigning as normal, chapping on people’s doors. Maybe in the later stages, more of that will be possible, but right now, it’s not. Arrangements will have to be made for safe voting and counting.”

Suggestions have been made the election could be held across two days to spread out the number of people voting at any one time.

The First Minister pointed to local byelections being held in March and elections which had been held across the world since the beginning of the pandemic. The US election, which saw record numbers of eligible voters turn out in a poll that saw US president Donald Trump lose to Joe Biden, was held late last year.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Over the course of this pandemic, something like 70 countries have had elections, so it can be done, but due consideration has to be given to how it can be done safely.”

The First Minister said that arrangements for the election, including where polling stations are located, was the responsibility of local returning officers. It is expected that more people than usual may apply for a postal vote.

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