The Government's obligation is to organize safe elections

2 min
Una nena dipositant el vot del seu pare en les eleccions al Parlament / CÈLIA ATSET

BarcelonaCatalan ombudsman Rafael Ribó asked yesterday for the constitution of a committee of experts to determine, with the deadline of January 15, if there were sufficient sanitary conditions to hold the elections on February 14. He also urged parties to carry out a legal reform that would, for example, allow voting days to be extended to avoid crowds and thus reduce the risk of contagion. Ribó's recommendations are thus added to the various studies carried out by the Government on how to deal with these elections. But also to the declarations of several members of the Government, as for example the Councillor of the Presidency, Meritxell Budó, and the head of the Department of Home Affairs, Miquel Sàmper, who questioned whether the elections could be effectively held on February 14.

Both JxCat, through Elsa Artadi, and ERC, with Marta Vilalta, asked yesterday to put an end to speculation about the election date and to let the Government work on its plans to ensure that they can be carried out as normally as possible. There is no doubt that organising an election in the midst of a pandemic represents a very important logistical and political challenge, but what the Government has to do is take all the necessary measures so that the elections can be held on the date set without infringing any rights or putting anyone's health at risk. And this, as experiences in other countries show, can be done.

In fact, the administration has a wide range of options for making the elections as secure as possible, such as putting voting centres in larger facilities, for example sports halls, and also making postal voting more dynamic. As demonstrated in the case of Galicia and the Basque Country, the most difficult challenge is to guarantee the right of people who have tested positive between the end of the postal vote and election day. What is not acceptable is to deprive anyone of the right to vote because they are suffering from an infectious disease in the middle of the 21st century.

But beyond these aspects, what would be desirable would be to put an end to the speculation about the election date, because otherwise it could be thought that someone has a special interest in postponing the elections because of partisan interest. And this would be unacceptable. We have already said on many occasions that this government, with two parties at odds with each other and without a president, is exhausted, and that it is necessary for the citizenry to speak out again to decide which project has more support and that a stronger and more stable government can be formed. And only in the event that the context makes the holding of elections truly unfeasible, for example in the case of total lockdown, would a postponement be justified.

In the meantime, the Government's obligation is to guarantee both the right to hold elections when the Parliament so decides and that they are held in the best possible sanitary conditions. In fact, not doing so would be, one year after the start of the pandemic, one of the main failures of the current administration.