Nicola Sturgeon has said she hopes May’s Holyrood vote will be able to go ahead – but she stressed it will not be “an election as normal”.
She said that in a time of “crisis”, it is right Scots should be able to have their say over who is in charge of the country.
But accepting there could be issues with the campaign, the casting of votes and the counting of them during a pandemic, the First Minister said “nothing happens right now without careful consideration of the safety issues”.
The Scottish Parliament has already passed contingency legislation which could see the election run over more than one day if necessary, or even postponed.
But speaking about the issue at her coronavirus briefing on Thursday, the First Minister said: “My view on this, and it has been my view all along, is that if it is at all possible, the election should go ahead, because we live in a democracy and it is right that people – perhaps even more so in a crisis – get the chance to cast their verdict on the government that is running the country.
“I think it is important that democracy happens.”
She added that even if the ballot goes ahead as planned on May 6, “it is not going to be an election as normal”.
Sturgeon said: “We’re not all going to be campaigning in the way we normally do, chapping on people’s doors.
“Maybe in the later stages more of that will be possible, but right now that is not possible.
“There will be arrangements that have to be made for the safe conduct of voting and counting.”
She noted that local council by-elections are still taking place in Scotland, and “something like 70 countries have had elections over the course of this pandemic”.