How will the Coronation affect local elections?

It has been announced that the Coronation of King Charles III will take place on Saturday 6th May 2023 (although that news on the BBC was quickly eclipsed by the information that he will be appearing in The Repair Shop).

So how will that affect the local elections due to take place on Thursday 4th May? These will include elections to a number of metropolitan, unitary, district and parish Councils that elect by thirds, together with many where the whole council will be elected, plus some directly elected Mayors.

There are several factors to take into account:

  1. Many Councils now do the count on Friday during the day, instead of overnight, and some carry on into the Saturday, especially where there are elections at several levels. Parish Councils are normally counted on Saturday.
  2. We would expect a day to be announced as a Bank Holiday in lieu of the Saturday. Could that be on the Friday?
  3. The week will be full of news on all media of the preparations for the Coronation which could deplete turnout.
  4. Is it possible that the coverage in the run-up to the event, with a lot of patriotic fervour, may sway voters?
  5. If the results are bad for the Conservatives – which would not be surprising! – this news will be conveniently buried.

Your thoughts, please.

Note that this is a post about the impact of a major national event on local elections – it is not about the monarchy itself. 

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • I’m sure the date will have been set in collaboration with the government, and the cynic in me thinks the Conservatives suggested that date because they expect poor results in those elections and hope it won’t be noticed, or even that the advance coverage of the coronation will distract from the awfulness of their government.

    I doubt they’ve given any thought to how it would impact on the workings of local government, because this government has no respect for local government.

  • nigel hunter 12th Oct '22 - 10:43am

    I agree with Fiona.It originally was going to clash with the FA cup.

  • Laurence Cox 12th Oct '22 - 11:53am

    I don’t think it is necessarily a problem; Councils could just choose to count overnight on Thursday – my local council did until quite recently – or they could delay the count until Monday. Our first Council meeting (the Mayor-making) after an election was usually a couple of weeks after polling day, so delaying until Monday would not matter (presumably the May-Day Bank Holiday would still be on 1st, but at worst it would be switched to the Friday).

  • Overnight counting in a large metropolitan area with parish councils is not really practical. The staff from the polling stations are often also involved in the count so need an overnight rest before starting on Friday morning. It should be possible to finish on Friday.I agree that the Nationa Government doesn’t care about the effect on Local Govenment or of the candidates possibly facing a long wait

  • If the following Monday and Tuesday, after the Coronation, are declared bank holidays (a deferred May Day plus one for the Coronation). Then any counts normally scheduled for, or overruns into, the Saturday may be resumed on the Wednesday, almost a week after polling.
    This hasn’t been thought out properly, and could be a real mess.

  • Nigel Jones 12th Oct '22 - 9:28pm

    What a mess for the counting ! But as to campaigning, our candidates could use the unifying symbolism of the monarchy as a way of saying we Lib-Dems are very much about unity in our nation; unity with diversity and unity more than any other party because we believe in government policies and priorities that care for everyone. We could also say that just as the new King believes the environment is crucial to our future, so we can claim to be the most active party on environmental issues (in practice even more than the Greens) .
    I worry though about the after-effects, because even normally I continue to be amazed at the number of voters in local elections who don’t bother to find out the results and can go even to the next election not knowing who runs their local councils, in spite of Lib-dem leaflets going though their doors.

  • Clearly local democracy is not seen as particularly important any more. If you live under a unitary council you only get to vote every four years anyway. I don’t get a chance to tell my local council quite how appalling they are until 2025 ! In spite of the Localism Act the average voter has neither power or influence over the decisions that effect their everyday lives. Perhaps this is something that should be higher up the Lib Dem agenda ?

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