The decision to postpone the elections on account of the coronavirus makes good sense to ensure that people who ought to self-isolate are not mixing or denied the democratic right to vote. We should support measures to slow the spread of the virus, and take steps to be good neighbours while the pandemic remains at large.
While Local Councillors, Mayors and others will spend a further year in office without facing voters in the ballot box, we must remember they also have another year to enact policy and exercise power in ways constituents may not approve of.
This delay to democracy is a stark reminder of our responsibility, as voters, to hold those elected to account not only at the ballot box, but throughout their terms of office. While the circumstances of the coronavirus leave representatives in office beyond their due date we should keep ourselves informed of what policies and decisions are being pushed through in the next thirteen months, and make our voices heard if we disagree.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. This is especially true when governments take steps to retain temporary powers, or to suspend or postpone democracy, as they have now. In such circumstances our duty as voters is to increase our scrutiny of how their extended powers are used, and ensure any delay to democracy is not extended beyond what is needed.
If circumstances have changed and elections can be held safely before next year, we should not delay democracy beyond that which is necessary. Overdue elected representatives should lay down their powers once this crisis has abated – as soon after it has abated as is practicably possible. We know from experience, last December, that this can actually be pretty quick if the will is there.
Crisis management should not become an excuse to extend power in office one moment longer than required, we owe that to our democracy and to every voter.