The Welsh Elections (Coronavirus) Act has received Royal Assent. The First Minister has stated his intention that the election should not be postponed and all involved are planning towards a May 6 poll.
However, as a precaution, the Senedd has passed this emergency legislation, that would allow the First Minister to propose to the Llywydd that the election is moved, if he feels it is necessary or appropriate, in order to run a safe and fair election because of the pandemic. This would only happen if at least 40 members of the Senedd (two thirds) vote in favour of a new date proposed by the Llywydd.
There are implications to Senedd business, however, as a result of the Act.
The Llywydd has written to all Members to outline the implications of the Act on the work of Senedd. You can read the letter in full here.
The Act shortens the usual dissolution period (which would normally begin on 7 April) to one week before the day of the election. This means that dissolution will begin on 29 April. As a result, Members will continue formally as Members of the Senedd for longer than usual including three weeks of the election period (i.e. from 7 to 28 April).
The purpose of the shortened dissolution, is to enable any new powers to postpone the election to be exercised up to one week before the election; and to enable the current Senedd to respond, if required, to unfolding public health issues in the period leading up to the election.
However, the Business Committee (which is responsible for organising the work of the Senedd) has determined that, as far as possible, during the election period there should be a level playing field for all candidates. It has agreed therefore that the Senedd will be in recess from 7 April until 28 April, to be called the ‘pre-dissolution period.
Any recall of the Senedd during that time for matters not related to the Bill will only occur in exceptional circumstances.