Elections despite coronavirus pandemic?
With stringent hygiene regulations in place, the first round of the French local elections went ahead on Sunday - despite heavy criticism and the state of emergency. Voter turnout was down by almost 20 percentage points to around 45 percent. Other states also face the decision of whether to hold elections during the coronavirus pandemic. Commentators are at odds over the issue.
Virus not the only challenge
Particularly in these difficult times elections provide an opportunity to strengthen democracy and solidarity, Ouest-France emphasises with regard to the election workers:
“They remind us that these elections are important and that coronavirus isn't the only challenge we must overcome. ... It's to be hoped that despite the circumstances, these municipal elections will enable all citizens to understand that they are genuine actors in democratic life. It is also to be hoped that thanks to voter confidence the winning lists will be able to respond without bias, by involving all elected representatives so as to tackle the many serious challenges at hand as effectively as possible. In so doing our municipalities will become more supportive, more humane, more joyful. And the future of democracy will be bright.”
Making a mockery of democracy
Presidential elections are due to take place in May in Poland. Commentator Andrzej Machowski explains in Gazeta Wyborcza why they should be postponed in view of the pandemic:
“An honest election is not just about counting all the votes that are thrown into the ballot boxes. Equal opportunities are just as important for elections to be fair. While there is no campaign, those in office are constantly present in all the media (in the fight against the coronavirus). Elections that take place in May would be comparable to a race in which five participants run 100 metres and one - President Andrzej Duda - only 50. ... What's more, we can't expect a decent turnout. I don't think it would be more than 40 percent. A decision in favour of holding the elections would be a mockery of democracy.”