Concerns have been raised about Scotland’s Polish communities as their country’s presidential election looms.
While many upcoming European elections have been called off, Poland’s government is still hoping to hold the presidential election on May 10, despite calls from doctors and medical experts to postpone the vote.
Under normal circumstances, the election would see polling stations in use across the UK, although the current coronavirus crisis means those will not be available.
With Fife in particular home to a large Polish population, there are fears members of those communities will not get the chance to have their say.
Claire Baker, Labour MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife and co-convener of the Cross Party Group on Poland, said: “It is a great concern that despite the calls in Poland and elsewhere for the election to be postponed, it still looks like going ahead.
“I welcome the clarity provided by the Scottish Government regarding polling stations in the UK not opening.
“However, this presents an issue for Polish residents in Scotland who will not be able to participate in the vote.
“Due to the current circumstances this election should be delayed and if the Polish government decides to proceed, there will be serious questions to answer both in terms of the health risk presented to voters and the legitimacy of the result.
“If the election goes ahead Polish residents in Scotland and the UK will be rightly concerned that they are being disenfranchised.”
Cabinet secretary Michael Russell has confirmed polling stations in Scotland cannot operate with the current guidance in place, and has also revealed that all Diplomatic Missions across the UK will be expected to organise polling for their citizens “in a way consistent with the regulations in force”.
Maciej Dokurno, who is member of the Poland Cross Party Group and active in the Polish community in Fife, said: “Members of the Polish community in the UK are concerned that they will face an impossible choice between their basic civic electoral rights and their lives.
“We feel betrayed and deeply upset by the Polish Government, pressing for the elections despite of the pandemic, depriving us of our basic civic right to vote and endangering our lives and lives of our local communities.”