The British government has decided to postpone the local elections after the Election Commission’s request due to the evolving situation of coronavirus. The United Kingdom has reported 802 cases of coronavirus and confirmed 11 deaths due to the pandemic. Election Commission (EC) wrote to the government on March 12 highlighting the impact of coronavirus on the polls scheduled in May and requested to delay it.
“In light of the current and emerging situation around Covid-19 in the UK, I wanted to write to set out the Commission’s concerns about the real risks to the successful delivery of the scheduled May 7, 2020 elections,” wrote Bob Posner, Chief Executive.
Posner said that the Commission has been in close contact with key stakeholders across the electoral community to assess the risks of holding the local elections in May. The Chief Executive of EC warned that the risks are significant and raise serious concerns about continuing the polls as per the timetable.
“Clearly any decisions to delay elections which are due is significant and would not normally be desirable; however, we are in unprecedented times,” said Posner.
After the government approved the request to postpone the elections to 2021, the Election Commission welcomed the decision and said that it will allow local authorities to focus their efforts on delivering front line public services and mitigates risks to voters and campaigners.
While China has registered a significant decline in the rate of coronavirus cases, Europe has been witnessing a dramatic rise. The World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, during the daily press briefing, said that the epicenter has shifted from China to Europe.
“Europe has now become the epicenter of the pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China. More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic,” said Adhanom Tedros Ghebreyesus.