This is the big question in Welsh politics and if people expected clarity this week when the Senedd debated (and voted to agree) the General Principles of the Welsh Elections (Coronavirus) Bill, they were to be disappointed. Introducing the legislation, the Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James MS (Lab, Swansea West) once more affirmed the Welsh Government wanted the election in May, but that the Bill was being introduced as a prudent contingency measure.
However, even if we did not get a big answer to the big question, we got lots of pointers to some of the other things which are being considered. The Minister said the dissolution period might be condensed even if a May election goes ahead, with the Senedd continuing to sit throughout most of April. We can also be clear on the mechanics of any deferral, with the request for postponement being made on the nomination of the First Minister, tabled through the Llywydd, and requiring a two-thirds majority for deferral to be approved for a period of up to six months. The Welsh Government refuses to be drawn into detail on what the bar for a trigger for deferral might look like, the Minister stating the situation is so fast moving. She said ideally the Welsh Government could make an advance decision but things could change rapidly.
Added to all this, we already know that leafleting during the lockdown has been made illegal, causing some smaller parties to argue they are being expressly squeezed out. Similarly, as Rhun ap Iorwerth MS (PC, Ynys Môn) and Alun Davies MS (Lab, Blaenau Gwent) both argued during the General Principles debate, shorter election periods are a danger to democracy since they can greatly favour incumbency. There is also the matter of the length of the ‘purdah’ period and the advantage that a shorter period might give to an incumbent government.

The only thing we can be sure of is this: even if Wales keeps to the May date, nothing will be as a normal election.