Impact of the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic on politics

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Countries with at least one election date altered

The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic affected the political systems of multiple countries causing suspensions of legislative activities, isolation or deaths of multiple politicians, and rescheduling of elections due to fears of spreading the virus.

General impacts[edit]

Leader popularity[edit]

There is evidence that the pandemic has caused a rally-round-the-flag effect in many countries, with government approval ratings rising in Italy (+27 percentage points), Germany (+11), France (+11), and the United Kingdom.[1] In the United States, President Donald Trump has seen a 5-point rise in approval, while state governors have seen higher increases of 55 points for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, 31 points for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, and 30 points for Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.[1]

States of emergency[edit]

Several countries have declared a state emergency, including Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Moldova, Romania, and Spain, which has raised concerns about lasting impacts on civil liberties.[2] For example, many countries have unveiled large-scale surveillance programs for contact tracing, leading to worries about their impact on privacy.[3]

Impact on international relations[edit]


The Chinese government has been criticised by the United States for its handling of the pandemic, which began in the Chinese province of Hubei.[4] In Brazil, the Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of President Jair Bolsonaro, caused a diplomatic dispute with China when he retweeted a message saying: "The blame for the global coronavirus pandemic has a name and surname: the Chinese Communist party." Yang Wanming, China's top diplomat in Brazil, retweeted a message that said: "The Bolsonaro family is the great poison of this country."[5]

Some commentators believe the state propaganda in China is promoting a narrative that China's authoritarian system is uniquely capable of curbing the coronavirus and contrasts that with the chaotic response of the Western democracies.[6][7][8] European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that "China is aggressively pushing the message that, unlike the US, it is a responsible and reliable partner."[9]

To counter its negative image, China has sent aid to 82 countries, the World Health Organization, and the African Union.[10][11][12] According to Yangyang Cheng, a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell University, "The Chinese government has been trying to project Chinese state power beyond its borders and establish China as a global leader, not dissimilar to what the U.S. government has been doing for the better part of a century, and the distribution of medical aid is part of this mission."[12] Borrell warned that there is "a geo-political component including a struggle for influence through spinning and the ‘politics of generosity’."[9]

European Union[edit]

The Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez stated that "If we don't propose now a unified, powerful and effective response to this economic crisis, not only the impact will be tougher, but its effects will last longer and we will be putting at risk the entire European project", while the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte commented that "the whole European project risks losing its raison d'être in the eyes of our own citizens".[13] From 4 to 19 March, Germany banned the export of personal protective equipment,[14][15] and France also restricted exports of medical equipment, drawing criticism from EU officials who called for solidarity.[16] Many Schengen Area countries closed their borders to stem the spread of the virus.[17]

Jointly issued debt[edit]

Debates over how to respond to the epidemic and its economic fallout have opened up a rift between Northern and Southern European member states, reminiscent of debates over the 2010s European debt crisis.[18] Nine EU countries—Italy, France, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Slovenia and Luxembourg—called for "corona bonds" (a type of eurobond) in order to help their countries to recover from the epidemic, on 25 March. Their letter stated, "The case for such a common instrument is strong, since we are all facing a symmetric external shock."[19][20] Northern European countries such as Germany, Austria, Finland, and the Netherlands oppose the issuing of joint debt, fearing that they would have to pay it back in the event of a default. Instead, they propose that countries should apply for loans from the European Stability Mechanism.[21][22] Corona bonds were discussed on 26 March 2020 in a European Council meeting, which dragged out for three hours longer than expected due to the "emotional" reactions of the prime ministers of Spain and Italy.[23][24] European Council President Charles Michel[22] and European Central Bank head Christine Lagarde have urged the EU to consider issuing joint debt.[24] Unlike the European debt crisis—partly caused by the affected countries—southern European countries did not cause the coronavirus pandemic, therefore eliminating the appeal to national responsibility.[21]

Civil liberties[edit]

Sixteen member nations of the European Union issued a statement warning that certain emergency measures issued by countries during the coronavirus pandemic could undermine the principles of rule of law and democracy on 1 April. They announced that they "support the European Commission initiative to monitor the emergency measures and their application to ensure the fundamental values of the Union are upheld."[25] The statement does not mention Hungary, but observers believe that it implicitly refers to a Hungarian law granting plenary power to the Hungarian Government during the coronavirus pandemic. The following day, the Hungarian Government joined the statement.[26][27]

The Hungarian parliament passed the law granting plenary power to the Government by qualified majority, 137 to 53 votes in favor, on 30 March 2020. After promulgating the law, the President of Hungary, János Áder, announced that he had concluded that the time frame of the Government's authorization would be definite and its scope would be limited.[28][29][30][31] Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, stated that she was concerned about the Hungarian emergency measures and that it should be limited to what is necessary and Minister of State Michael Roth suggested that economic sanctions should be used against Hungary.[32][33]

The heads of thirteen member parties of the European People's Party (EPP) made a proposal to expunge the Hungarian Fidesz for the new legislation on 2 April. In response, Viktor Orbán expressed his willingness to discuss any issues relating to Fidesz's membership "once the pandemic is over" in a letter addressed to the Secretary General of EPP Antonio López-Istúriz White. Referring to the thirteen leading politicians' proposal, Orbán also stated that "I can hardly imagine that any of us having time for fantasies about the intentions of other countries. This seems to be a costly luxury these days."[34] During a video conference of the foreign ministers of the European Union member states on 3 April 2020, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó, asked for the other ministers to read the legislation itself not its politically motivated presentations in newspapers before commenting on it.[35]

Japan–South Korea relations[edit]

Japan–South Korea relations worsened as a result of the pandemic.[36] After Japan declared it would start quarantining all arrivals from South Korea, the South Korean government described the move as “unreasonable, excessive and extremely regrettable”, and that it couldn't "help but question whether Japan has other motives than containing the outbreak".[37]

United States[edit]

The United States has come under scrutiny by officials from other countries for allegedly hijacking shipments of crucial supplies meant for other countries.[38][39]

Jean Rottner, the President of France's Regional council of Grand Est, accused the United States of disrupting face mask deliveries by buying at the last minute.[40] French officials stated that Americans came to the airport tarmac and offered several times the French payment as the shipment was prepared for departure to France.[39] Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, asked Bill Blair, the Public Safety Minister, and Marc Garneau, the Transportation Minister, to investigate allegations that medical supplies originally intended for Canada were diverted to the United States.[41] German politician Andreas Geisel accused the United States of committing "modern piracy" after reports that 200,000 N95 masks meant for German police were diverted during an en-route transfer between airplanes in Thailand to the United States,[42] but later changed his statement after he clarified that the mask orders were made through a German firm, not a U.S. firm as earlier stated, and the supply chain issues were under review.[43]

Due to shortages in coronavirus tests Maryland Governor Larry Hogan had his wife Yumi Hogan, who was born in South Korea, to speak with the South Korean ambassador and afterwards multiple South Korea companies stated that they would send tests to Maryland.[44]

On 2 April 2020, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act of 1950 to halt exports of masks produced by 3M to Canada and Latin America.[45] Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that it would be a mistake for both their countries to limit trade of essential goods or services, including medical supplies and professionals, and remarked that this moves in both directions.[45] The Canadian government has turned to China and other places for crucial medical supplies, while they seek a constructive discussion about the issue with the Trump administration.[46]

Impact on national politics[edit]


On 17 March 2020, Sophie Wilmès was sworn in as Prime Minister of Belgium. Seven opposition parties pledged to support the minority Wilmès II Government, in its previous composition, with plenary power to handle the coronavirus pandemic in Belgium.[47]


President Jair Bolsonaro has been criticized for his handling of the crisis.[48] He has referred to the pandemic as a "fantasy".[49] According to one poll, 64% of Brazilians reject the way Bolsonaro has handled the pandemic, while 44.8% support his impeachment, an all-time high.[50] During a speech by the president about the pandemic, millions participated in a panelaço protesting the president by banging pots and pans on balconies.[51]


On 13 March 2020, the Parliament of Canada voted to suspend activity in both houses until 20 April for the House of Commons and 21 April for the Senate.[52] The House of Commons' Health and Finance committees were granted the ability to hold weekly virtual meetings during the pandemic.[53]

The leadership contests of the Conservative Party of Canada, Green Party of British Columbia, Quebec Liberal Party and Parti Québécois were postponed.[54][55][56][57]


Multiple provincial-level administrators of the Communist Party of China (CPC) were dismissed over their handling of the quarantine efforts in central China. Some experts believe this is likely in a move to protect Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping from people's anger over the coronavirus outbreak.[58] Protests in Hong Kong strengthened due to fears of immigration from mainland China.[59] Taiwan has also voiced concern over being included in any travel ban involving the People's Republic of China due to the "one-China policy" and Chinese claims.[60] A few countries have been using the epidemic to build political bridges with Beijing, raising accusations that these countries, which include Cambodia among others, were putting politics before health.[61] Existing tensions between the United States and China may have delayed a coordinated effort to combat the outbreak in Wuhan.[62]

Outlets such as Politico, Foreign Policy, and Bloomberg have reported that efforts from China to send aid to other countries and claim without evidence that the virus originated in the United States are a propaganda push for global influence while deflecting blame for its handling of the outbreak.[63][7][8]


The Hungarian Parliament gave the government plenary power which authorizes it to override acts and to rule by decree to the extent that is "necessary and proportional" in order to "prevent, manage, and eradicate the epidemic and to avoid and mitigate its effects".[64] The law prescribes that the government is to report back to the parliament, or if it's unable to convene, to its speaker and the leaders of the parliamentary groups, regularly about the measures it has taken.[64] The law also suspends by-elections and referendums for the duration of the emergency.[65][64] The Constitutional Court of Hungary is authorized to hold sessions via electronic communications networks.[64] The act also criminalizes "statements known to be false or statements distorting true facts" with 1 to 5 years imprisonment "if done in a manner capable of hindering or derailing the effectiveness of the response effort".[64] The opposition had demanded a 90-day sunset clause to the emergency powers in return for its support, but had its amendments voted down and therefore opposed the act.[64]

Human Rights Watch described the legislation, as an authoritarian takeover, due to the rule of decree without parliamentary or judicial scrutiny and for criminal penalties for the publishing of "false" or "distorted" facts, and gave support to the European Commission using Article 7 against Hungary.[66][67][68][69] A petition against the legislation was signed by over 100,000 people. Péter Jakab, the president of the opposition party Jobbik, said that the bill put Hungarian democracy in quarantine. Nézőpont, a pro-government polling agency, conducted a poll that showed that 90% of Hungarians supported extending emergency measures and 72% supported strengthening the criminal code.[70]


The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been heavily affected by the virus.[71] The spread of the virus has raised questions about the future survival of the regime.[72] Iran's President Hassan Rouhani wrote a public letter to world leaders asking for help, saying that his country doesn't have access to international markets due to the United States sanctions against Iran.[73]

On 3 March 2020, Iranian Parliament was shut down after having 23 of the 290 members of parliament reported to have had tested positive for the virus.[74]


After facing political deadlock since the legislative election held on 9 April 2019, Israel held another election on 2 March 2020, between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz. Gantz narrowly won the endorsement of a majority of members of the Knesset, and lessened his previous reluctance to cooperate with Netanyahu, stating his interest in forming a national unity government to tackle the coronavirus crisis.[75] Later in the month, Netanyahu proposed a power sharing agreement in which he would step down in 2021.[76]

On 28 March 2020, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov praised the Israel and Palestinian authorities for their coordination in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. Mladenov appreciated the response strategy, especially for focusing on Gaza, as the region faces a relatively substantial risk of the disease spreading. Since the start of the novel coronavirus crisis, Israel permitted the entry of significant medical and aid supplies inside Gaza.[77]


On 18 March, Interior Minister Agim Veliu was sacked due to his support for declaring a state of emergency to handle the coronavirus pandemic which would have given power to the Kosovo Security Council chaired by Hashim Thaçi. The Democratic League of Kosovo, the junior partner leader of the coalition, filed a no-confidence vote motion in retaliation for the sacking and on 25 March eighty two members of the Kosovo Assembly voted in favor of the motion.[78][79]


On 13 March, Janez Janša became the Prime Minister of Slovenia and organized a crisis management body with unclear legal basis to take over governance that later dismissed the heads of the defense forces, military intelligence agency, and the national police.[80]

South Korea[edit]

Diplomatic relations between Japan and South Korea worsened, as South Korea criticized Japan's "ambiguous and passive quarantine efforts", after Japan announced anybody coming from South Korea will be placed in two weeks’ quarantine at government-designated sites.[81]

Following the outbreak of the virus in South Korea over 1,450,000 people signed a petition supporting the impeachment of President Moon Jae-in due to him sending masks and medical supplies to China to aid them in their response to the virus outbreak.[82] Moon administration's continuing handling of the crisis has however been noted in other sectors of the Korean society and internationally. An opinion poll by Gallup Korea in March 2020 showed Moon's approval rating rising by 5% to 49%.[83]


On 12 March 2020, the Congress of Deputies voted to suspend activity for a week after multiple members had tested positive for the virus.[84] When the Congress of Deputies approved the extension of the State of Alarm on 18 March, it was the first time that opposition parties Popular Party and Vox had supported the government in a vote while separatist parties, such as Catalan Republican Left, abstained from the vote.[85]

The response to the coronavirus has been complicated by the fact that Pedro Sánchez is leading PSOE (in coalition with Unidas Podemos) minority government which is counting on support from opposition parties to enact coronavirus measures, especially with regards to economic stimulus. So far, the cabinet is discussing proposals to offer zero-interest loans to tenants to pay rent so that smaller landlords who depend on rent income can stay afloat. PP leader Pablo Casado complained that the government was not keeping him informed of developments on the coronavirus. Ciudadanos leader Inés Arrimadas said that she supports the government's actions.[85]

United States[edit]


Due to the stock market crash, high unemployment claims, and reduced economic activity caused by the coronavirus pandemic the United States Congress convened to create legislation to address the economic effects of the pandemic and passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Representative Thomas Massie attempted to maneuver for a roll-call vote, but there was insufficient demand among the quorum present and the House passed the bill by voice vote on 27 March.[86]

On 19 March, ProPublica published an article showing that Senator Richard Burr has sold between $628,000 and $1.7 million worth of stocks before the stock market crash using insider knowledge from a closed Senate meeting where Senators were briefed on how coronavirus could effect the United States and stock transactions committed by Senators Dianne Feinstein, Kelly Loeffler, and Jim Inhofe were also placed under scrutiny for insider trading.[87] On 30 March, the Department of Justice imitated a probe into the stock transactions with the Securities and Exchange Commission.[88]

European Union leaders condemned the United States decision to restrict travel from Europe to the United States.[89] The outbreak prompted calls for the country to adopt social policies common in other wealthy countries, including universal health care, universal child care, paid family leave, and higher levels of funding for public health.[90] Some state emergency orders have waived open meeting laws that require the public have physical access to the meeting location, allowing meetings to be held by public teleconference.[91][92]

Captain Brett Crozier wrote a four-page memo requesting help for his crew, as a viral outbreak had occurred onboard his ship.[93] However, he was soon relieved from his command of his ship, because the memo was leaked to the public.[93] The Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly initially justified his actions to fire Crozier, saying that the captain was "too naive or too stupid" to be a commanding officer if he did not think that the information would get out to the public in this information age, but later issued an apology in which he acknowledged that Crozier intended to draw public attention to the circumstances on his ship.[93] Several members of Congress called for Modly's resignation for his handling of the situation which he did on 7 April.[93]


Multiple states suspended legislative activity including Colorado, Kentucky, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Vermont.[94][95][96][97]

On 11 March 2020, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham vetoed $150 million worth on infrastructure projects due to the state losing $22 million in its general fund for every $1 decrease in the price of a barrel of oil as a result of the Russia–Saudi Arabia oil price war. The Alaska Department of Revenue delayed its release of its budget forecast due to Alaska's dependence on oil prices.[98]

On 10 March, Georgia state senator Brandon Beach started showing symptoms of COVID-19 and was tested on 14 March. However, he attended a special session of the legislature on 16 March before his test results arrived on 18 March showing that he had tested positive. The entire Georgia state senate, their staffs, and Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan went into quarantine until 30 March.[99]

Impact on elections[edit]


On 21 March 2020, President Jeanine Áñez announced the interim government's decision to postpone the snap election. Other presidential candidates had suggested postponing the election to prevent the spread of coronavirus through the congregation of large groups of people.[100][101]


A plebiscite on a new constitution and the convention that would write it was scheduled on 25 April, but on 19 March, political parties reached an agreement on postponing the plebiscite to 25 October.[102] This agreement also postponed municipal and regional elections, from 25 October to 4 April 2021, with the primaries and second rounds of elections being postponed too.[citation needed]


On 31 March, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia delayed the House of Representatives elections that were originally scheduled for 29 August, due to the outbreak of coronavirus in Ethopia.[103]


President Emmanuel Macron declared coronavirus as the "biggest health crisis in a century". On 12 March he stated that the first round of local elections would not be rescheduled.[104] The choice to maintain the elections, which took place on 15 March, generated significant controversy.[105] On 16 March, he stated that the second round, originally scheduled for 22 March, would be delayed until 21 June.[106]


A referendum on a constitutional amendment to decrease the number of members of parliament from 630 to 400 was initially scheduled to be held on 29 March, but was postponed to an undetermined date following the outbreak of the virus in Italy.[107]


On 10 March 2020, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) suspended nationwide voter registration until the end of the month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The registration period began 20 January and is scheduled to run until 30 September 2021.[108] The suspension was later extended to last until the end of April. The issuance of voter's certification is also suspended until further notice. The next nationwide elections scheduled in the Philippines is in May 2022.[109]

The plebiscite to ratify legislation which proposes the partition of Palawan into three smaller provinces scheduled for May 2020 may be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The province provincial legislature has called for a special session and is expected to pass a resolution allowing their governor to ask the COMELEC to postpone the plebiscite.[110]


The Polish government, under the leadership of the Law and Justice Party, chose to not delay the presidential election. Poland's election laws were also altered to allow postal voting for those over 60 and those under quarantine but not abroad, which was criticized as favoring the incumbent Law and Justice Party.[111]

On 27 March, some candidates for the presidential election failed to collect 100,000 signatures due to the coronavirus pandemic with only twelve presidential candidates having successfully collected over 100,000 signatures. Seven candidates submitted petitions with less than 100,000 signatures, but plan to appeal the central election commission's refusal to register them in the presidential election citing the coronavirus pandemic hampering the signature collection process.[112]


On 16 March 2020, the electoral commission postponed the parliamentary election that was initially planned for 26 April.[113]


The 2020 Basque regional election, scheduled for 5 April, were delayed, after an agreement between all the political parties represented in the Basque parliament; the Galician elections were also suspended.[114][115]

Sri Lanka[edit]

On 19 March, Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya announced that the 2020 Sri Lankan parliamentary election will be postponed indefinitely until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic.[116][117] Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa initially insisted that scheduled forthcoming the election would proceed as planned on 25 April despite the coronavirus pandemic, and the authorities banned election rallies and meetings.[118]


The parliamentary elections originally scheduled for 13 April were delayed to 20 May to protect Syria from coronavirus.[119]

United Kingdom[edit]

On 13 March 2020, the United Kingdom local elections that were meant to be held on 7 May 2020 were rescheduled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to 6 May 2021 following the advice of the Electoral Commission and in agreement with Labour and the Liberal Democrats.[120]

On 27 March, the Liberal Democrats postponed their leadership election until 2021.[121]

United States[edit]


States with at least one local, state, or federal election date or method of voting altered as of 4 April 2020.
  Municipal election date altered
  State level primary or election date altered
  State level and municipal primary or election date altered
  Federal level primary or election date altered

Political campaigns switched to online and virtual activities in mid-March to either avoid the spreading of coronavirus or to be in compliance with statewide social distancing rules.[122] Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders started giving online town halls and virtual fundraisers.[123] President Donald Trump's presidential campaign also shifted from in-person to virtual campaigning due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing rules made after his 2 March rally and both his and other Republican leadership offices based in Virginia were closed due to stay-at-home orders issued by Governor Ralph Northam.[124]

On 15 March, the first one-on-one debate of the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries took place between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in CNN's Washington, D.C. studios and without an audience, as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The debate was moved from Arizona, which is under a state of emergency and had 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on that date.[125][126]

On 2 April, the Democratic National Convention, which was originally scheduled to be held from 13 to 16 July, was delayed to the week of 17 August after the Democratic National Committee communicated with the presidential campaigns of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.[127] On 5 April Biden suggested "a virtual convention" may be necessary;[128] Trump told Fox News' Sean Hannity there was "no way" he would cancel the Republican National convention, scheduled to begin on 24 August in Charlotte, NC.[129]

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) expressed concern in early April that the pandemic might lower voter turnout in November. Closings of churches, universities, and driver's license centers will make it more difficult for voters to register and the Democracy Project at the Brennan Center for Justice expect turnout to be low, as it was during the 17 March, Illinois Democratic primary. Georgia state House Speaker David Ralston (R), predicted that mailing absentee ballot request forms to all voters in the state during the coronavirus crisis would be “devastating” for GOP candidates, and President Trump said that some of the election reforms would make it harder for Republicans to win office.[130]


On 12 March 2020, the North Dakota Democratic-NPL cancelled its state convention that was meant to be held from 19 to 22 March where statewide candidates would have been nominated and delegates to the Democratic National Convention would have been selected.[131] On 13 March, the presidential primary in Louisiana was postponed to 20 June by Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and Wyoming had its in-person portion of its caucus and all county conventions suspended and replaced with mail-in ballots.[132][133]

On 14 March, the presidential primary in Georgia was moved from 24 March to 19 May.[134] On 16 March, Secretary of State Michael Adams announced that the Kentucky primaries would be moved from 19 May to 23 June and Governor Mike DeWine postponed the Ohio primaries despite legal challenges.[135][136] On 19 March, Governor Ned Lamont moved the Connecticut Democratic primary from 28 April to 2 June.[137] On 20 March, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, Secretary of State Connie Lawson, Republican state chairman Kyle Hupfer, and Democratic state chairman John Zody announced that Indiana's primaries were rescheduled from 5 May to 2 June.[138]

On 21 March, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced postponed the Puerto Rico presidential primary from 29 March to 26 April. The Alaska Democratic Party canceled in-person voting for its presidential primary and extended its mail-in voting time to 10 April. Governor John Carney postponed the Delaware presidential primary from 28 April to 2 June. The Democratic Party of Hawaii canceled in-person voting for its presidential primary and delayed it from 4 April to sometime in May. Governor Gina Raimondo postponed the Rhode Island presidential primary at the request of the board of elections from 28 April to 2 June.[139] On 27 March, Governor Tom Wolf signed into law legislation passed by the state legislature to postpone Pennsylvania's primaries from 28 April to 2 June.[140] On 28 March, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced at a news conference that New York's presidential primary would be postponed from 28 April to 23 June.[141]

On 30 March, the Kansas Democratic Party announced that its presidential primary would be conducted only through mail-in ballots, and Governor Brad Little and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney also announced that Idaho's primary elections would also be conducted entirety through mail-in ballots.[142][143] On 1 April, Governor Jim Justice signed an executive order to postpone West Virginia's primaries from 12 May to 9 June.[144]

Polling places in Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Arizona that were located in senior living facilities were moved and other health precautions were enacted.[145] Local election directors in Maryland asked for the state's primary to be changed to only use mail-in ballots and former Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Mary J. Miller asked for Governor Larry Hogan to switch to mail-in ballots.[146]

State Original date New date
Puerto Rico 29 March 2020 26 April 2020
Georgia 24 March 2020 19 May 2020
Connecticut 28 April 2020 2 June 2020
Delaware 28 April 2020 2 June 2020
Ohio 17 March 2020 2 June 2020
Pennsylvania 28 April 2020 2 June 2020
Rhode Island 28 April 2020 2 June 2020
Indiana 5 May 2020 2 June 2020
West Virginia 12 May 2020 9 June 2020
Louisiana 4 April 2020 20 June 2020
Kentucky 19 May 2020 23 June 2020
New York 28 April 2020 23 June 2020



Thirty-four Democratic and Republican candidates in New York signed a petition asking Governor Andrew Cuomo for the primary petition signature amounts to be decreased or eliminated for the primaries to prevent spreading or contracting the virus during signature collection.[147] On 14 March, Cuomo reduced the signature requirement to 30% of the normal limit and moved the deadline from 2 April to 17 March.[148]

On 26 March, the Green Party stated that the pandemic would prevent third party candidates from appearing on the ballot unless petitioning requirements were reduced.[149]


On 11 March 2020, the Michigan Democratic Party cancelled its state convention which was scheduled for 21 March.[150] The Utah Republican, and Democratic parties cancelled their in-person state conventions and the United Utah replaced their caucuses and conventions with virtual meetings.[151]

On 16 March, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the postponement of the Texas state Senate District 14 special election from 2 May to 14 July.[152] On 20 March, the North Carolina State Board of Elections announced that the Republican primary runoff for North Carolina's 11th Congressional district would be delayed to 23 June and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced that the Republican primary runoff for the 2nd congressional district would be postponed to 23 June.[153][154] On 23 March, special elections for the Massachusetts State House and Senate were postponed.[155]

On 15 March, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster delayed all county and municipal elections in March and April to after 1 May.[156] On 18 March, Alabama Govenor Kay Ivey delayed the state's primary runoffs from 31 March to 14 July, Missouri Governor Mike Parson delayed local elections from 7 April to 2 June, and Secretary of State Paul Ziriax announced that municipalities could reschedule elections from 7 April to a late date.[157][158][159] On 24 March, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and Nevada's seventeen county election officials announced that Nevada's June primaries would be conducted entirely through mail-in ballots.[160] Secretary of State Paul Pate increased the absentee voting period for Iowa's June primaries and also postponed special elections in three counties.[161][162]


In Wisconsin—a swing state with a Democratic governor and a Republican legislature—the 7 April election for a state Supreme Court seat, the federal presidential primaries for both the Democratic and Republican parties, and several other judicial and local elections went ahead as scheduled.

Due to the pandemic, at least fifteen other U.S. states cancelled or postponed scheduled elections or primaries at the time of Wisconsin's election.[163] With Wisconsin grappling with their own pandemic, state Democratic lawmakers made several attempts to postpone their election, but were prevented by other Republican legislators. Governor Tony Evers called the Wisconsin legislature into a 4 April special session, but the Republican-controlled Assembly and Senate graveled their sessions in and out within seventeen seconds.[164] In a joint statement afterwards, Wisconsin's state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald criticized Evers for attempting to postpone the election, for not calling a special session earlier, and for reversing his previous position on keeping the election date intact.[165]

On 6 April, Evers attempted to move the election by an executive order, but was blocked by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. On the same day, a separate effort to extend the deadline for mailing absentee ballots was blocked by the Supreme Court of the United States. The only major concession achieved was that absentee ballots postmarked by 7 April at 8 p.m. would be accepted until 13 April.[166] However, local media outlets reported that many voters had not received their requested absentee ballots by election day or, due to social distancing, were unable to satisfy a legal requirement that they obtain a witness' signature.[167][168]

Lawmakers' decision to not delay the election was sharply criticized by the editorial board of the local Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which had previously endorsed the Republican former governor Scott Walker.[169] They called the election "the most undemocratic in the state's history."[170] The New York Times characterized the election as "almost certain to be tarred as illegitimate," adding that the inability of the state's lawmakers to come to an agreement on moving the election was "an epic and predictable failure." The newspaper placed the political maneuvering as part of another chapter in "a decade of bitter partisan wrangling that saw [state Republicans] clinically attack and defang the state's Democratic institutions, starting with organized labor and continuing with voting laws making it far harder for poor and black residents of urban areas to vote."[171] Republicans believed that holding the election on 7 April, when Democratic-leaning urban areas were hard-hit by the pandemic, would help secure them political advantages like a continued 5–2 conservative majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court (through the elected seat of Daniel Kelly).[169][172]

When the election went ahead on 7 April, access to easy in-person voting heavily depended on where voters were located. In smaller or more rural communities, which tend to be whiter and vote Republican, few issues were reported.[172][173] In more urbanized areas, the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure and consolidation of many polling places around the state despite the use of 2,500 National Guard members to combat a severe shortage in poll workers.[174][175] The effects were felt most heavily in Milwaukee, the state's largest city with the largest minority population and the center of the state's ongoing pandemic.[172] The city's government was only able to open 5 of 180 polling stations after being short by nearly 1,000 poll workers.[175] As a result, lengthy lines were reported, with some voters waiting for up to 2.5 hours and through rain showers.[174][176] The lines disproportionately affected Milwaukee's large Hispanic and African-American population; the latter had already been disproportionately afflicted with the coronavirus pandemic, forming nearly half of Wisconsin's documented cases and over half its deaths at the time the vote was conducted.[171][173]

Similar problems with poll station closures and long lines were reported in Waukesha, where only one polling station was opened for a city of 70,000, and Green Bay, where only 17 poll workers out of 270 were able to work.[171] Other cities were able to keep lines much shorter, including the state capital of Madison, which opened about two-thirds of its usual polling locations, and Appleton, which opened all of its usual 15.[174][177]

Voters across the state were advised to maintain social distancing, wear face masks, and bring their own pens.[178] Vos, the state Assembly Speaker, served as an election inspector for in-person voting on 7 April. While wearing medical-like personal protective equipment, he told reporters that it was "incredibly safe to go out" and vote, adding that voters faced "minimal exposure."[172][179]

Impact on politicians and public figures[edit]

Political leaders including Santiago Abascal, the president of Vox in Spain, and Nicola Zingaretti, the Secretary of the Democratic Party, have stated that they tested positive for COVID-19.


On 13 March 2020, Peter Dutton, the Minister for Home Affairs, stated that he was infected with COVID-19 and went into isolation in a hospital after having attended a Five Eyes security pact in Washington, D.C. where he met with United States President Donald Trump, United States Attorney General William Barr, and Ivanka Trump.[180]


On 12 March 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau went into isolation while Sophie underwent testing that later showed that she tested positive for COVID-19.[181]

On 25 March, the liberal MP from Brampton West, Kamal Khera, announced that she has tested positive for COVID-19 and would be self-isolating. She was the first federal politician to test positive.[182]


On 28 March 2020, Hesse Finance Minister Thomas Schäfer committed suicide as he believed that he could not meet the financial aid expectations to combat the coronavirus pandemic.[183]


President of Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald was the first high-profile Irish politician affected by the spread of COVID-19, with her party cancelling events and her family entering self-isolation for a period, after McDonald confirmed on 2 March that her children attended the same school as the student with the first recorded case of COVID-19 in Ireland.[184] On 16 March, Thomas Pringle, an independent TD representing the Donegal constituency, entered isolation due to previous contact with someone in Dublin and the high risk to his own personal health.[185][186]

On 18 March, Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, the independent MEP representing the Midlands–North-West constituency, announced that he and his family would begin self-isolating after his daughter exhibited symptoms of COVID-19.[187]


On 24 March, 2020, Mahmoud Jibril, the leader of the National Forces Alliance who had served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister of Libya in 2011, tested positive for coronavirus and later died on 5 April.[188]


On 7 March 2020, Nicola Zingaretti, the Secretary of the Democratic Party and President of Lazio, announced that he was infected with COVID-19 and Anna Ascani, the vice president of the Democratic Party, also stated that she was infected by the virus on 14 March.[189][190]


On 15 March 2020, Albert II, Prince of Monaco tested positive for coronavirus becoming the first head of state to test positive, but later recovered.[191][192][193]


During a debate in the House of Representatives on the corona pandemic on 18 March 2020, Minister for Medical Care Bruno Bruins suffered from a fainting, which was attributed to overtiredness. One day later, the king honorably discharged him at his own request. Minister Hugo de Jonge took over the tasks relating to the fight against the corona pandemic.[194]


Several Filipino politicians and their relatives have tested for COVID-19 causing public backlash since some of them allegedly bypassed the Department of Health's protocol to only test symptomatic individuals or expedited the conduct and releasing of their COVID-19 testing results during a shortage on testing kits in the Philippines.[195][196][197]

One member of President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet tested positive for COVID-19, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.[198]

Members of both the lower and upper chambers of the Congress of the Philippines have been confirmed to have contracted COVID-19. In the Senate, 3 out of 24 Senators have contracted the disease. On 18 March 2020, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a meeting with a resource person at the Senate, who later tested positive as well. He and his family went into self-isolation.[199] Senators Koko Pimentel[200] and Sonny Angara[201] tested positive for the virus as well on 25 and 26 March respectively.

The House of Representatives has one member who have contracted COVID-19. On 26 March Bulacan 4th District representative Henry Villarica was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19.[202] ACT-CIS Partylist representative Eric Go Yap was initially reported to have tested positive for the virus, but later announced that he had actually tested negative, with the initial erroneous result attributed to an encoding error by the testing laboratory.[203][204]

In the provincial level, Rebecca Ynares, the Governor of Rizal, announced on 26 March to have tested positive for the virus.[205] In the municipal level, Ferdinand Estrella, Mayor of Baliuag, announced on 17 March that he had tested positive for COVID-19.[206] On 20 March, Caba, La Union Mayor Philip Crispin announced that both he and Donna Crispino, his wife and a councilor of the town, had contracted the virus.[207] Batangas City Council Julian Pedro Pastor died from COVID-19 on 4 April.[208]


On 8 March 2020, Vox held a political rally that was attended by over 9,000 people and later apologised after Santiago Abascal, its president, Javier Ortega Smith, its secretary general, and multiple members of its party in the Congress of Deputies tested positive for COVID-19.[84]

United Kingdom[edit]

On 5 March 2020, Under-Secretary of State for Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Patient Safety and parliamentarian Nadine Dorries showed symptoms of COVID-19 after meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and later tested positive. Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and parliamentarian Rachael Maskell went into isolation due to coming in contact with Dorries.[209] Kate Osborne, a Labour MP, was the second MP to test positive for COVID-19.[210] Lloyd Russell-Moyle was the third MP to test positive.

On 25 March, Charles, Prince of Wales became the first member of the British royal family to test positive for coronavirus.[211]

Boris Johnson went into isolation in 10 Downing Street and on 27 March, he announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus.[212] On 5 April, he was admitted to St Thomas' Hospital in Westminster and was later moved to the intensive care unit the following day.[213]

United States[edit]

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was held from 26 to 29 February 2020, and it was later discovered that one of the attendants with a gold-level VIP ticket had met with multiple high level politicians. These included Senators Ted Cruz, Rick Scott, and Lindsey Graham; and Representatives Mark Meadows, Paul Gosar, Doug Collins, and Matt Gaetz all of whom later went into self-quarantine along with other members of the Republican Party.[214][215]

On 18 March, Representatives Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL-25) and Ben McAdams (D-UT-4) became the first members of Congress to test positive for the virus.[216][217] On 22 March, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) became the first member of the Senate to test positive for coronavirus, but despite having taken the test he did not go into isolation causing Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee to go into isolation after having made contact with Paul.[218][219] On 19 March, Joe Cunningham (D-SC-1) went into isolation after coming into contact with another member of Congress who tested positive and on 27 March he announced that he tested positive for the virus.[220][221]

On 7 April, Rand Paul announced that he had recovered from the coronavirus and would start volunteering at a local hospital.[222]



  Denotes infected   Denotes deaths   Same person denoted with asterisks

Country Upper house Lower house Sub-national legislatures
 Australia Senate
House of Representatives
 Brazil Federal senate
Chamber of Deputies
 Burkina Faso National Assembly
 Canada Senate
House of Commons
 France Senate
National Assembly
 Indonesia Regional Representative Council
People's Representative Council
 Iran Assembly of Experts

Expediency Discernment Council
Islamic Consultative Assembly
 Israel Knesset
 Italy Senate of the Republic
Chamber of Deputies
 Mexico Senate of the Republic
Chamber of Deputies
 Morocco House of Councillors
House of Representatives
 Monaco National Council
 Nigeria Senate
House of Representatives
 Norway Storting
 Philippines Senate
House of Representatives
 Poland Senate
 Spain Congress of Deputies
Parliament of Navarre
 South Africa National Council of Provinces
National Assembly
 Ukraine Senate
Congress of Deputies
 United States Senate
House of Representatives
New York State Assembly [239]
Georgia House of Representatives [240]
Georgia State Senate [241]
Wisconsin State Assembly [242]
Connecticut House of Representatives [243]
Colorado State Senate [244]
Colorado House of Representatives [245]
Hawaii State Senate [246]
New Jersey General Assembly [247]
Oklahoma State Senate [248]
Oklahoma House of Representatives [249]
Missouri House of Representatives [250]
Michigan House of Representatives [251]
South Dakota House of Representatives [253]
Massachusetts House of Representatives [254]
 United Kingdom House of Lords
House of Commons
 United Nations
 EU European Parliament

Executive offices and others[edit]

Country Executive power, cabinet, and public figures Regional and other positions
 Austria Karl von Habsburg, Head of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine
 Australia Peter Dutton, Minister for Home Affairs
 Brazil Bento Albuquerque, Ministry of Mines and Energy
Augusto Heleno, Secretary of Institutional Security
Nestor Forster, Ambassador of Brazil to the United States
 Burkina Faso Oumarou Idani, Minister of Mines and Quarries
Stanislas Ouaro, Minister of National Education, Literacy and Promotion of National Languages
Siméon Sawadogo, Minister of State, Territorial Administration, Decentralization and Social Cohesion
Alpha Barry, Minister of Foreign Affairs
 France Franck Riester, Minister of Culture
Brune Poirson, Secretary of State for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition
 Indonesia Budi Karya Sumadi, Minister of Transportation Bima Arya Sugiarto, Mayor of Bogor
 Iran Eshaq Jahangiri, Vice President
Masoumeh Ebtekar, Vice President for Women and Family Affairs
Ali Asghar Mounesan, Minister of Cultural Heritage
Reza Rahmani, Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade
 Israel Yaakov Litzman, Minister of Health Jeremy Issacharoff, Ambassador of Israel to Germany
 Italy Nicola Zingaretti, President of Lazio
Alberto Cirio, President of Piedmont
Alessandro Tambellini, Mayor of Lucca
Patrizia Barbieri, Mayor of Piacenza
 Mexico Omar Fayad, Governor of Hidalgo
Francisco Domínguez Servién, Governor of Querétaro
Adán Augusto López Hernández, Governor of Tabasco
Silvia Guillermina Roldán Fernández, Secretary of Health, State of Tabasco
 Morocco Abdelkader Aamara, Minister of Equipment, Transport and Logistics
 Monaco Albert II, Prince of Monaco
 Nigeria Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the President
 Norway Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion
 Philippines Eduardo Año, Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Rebecca Ynares, Governor of Rizal
Ferdinand V. Estrella, Mayor of Baliuag
Philip Caesar P. Crispino, Mayor of Caba
Bernardita Catalla, Ambassador of the Philippines to Lebanon[264]
 Poland Michał Woś, Minister of Environment
Jarosław Mika, General Commander of the Polish Armed Forces
 Spain Carmen Calvo, First Deputy Prime Minister of Spain
Irene Montero, Minister of Equality
Carolina Darias, Minister for Territorial Administrations
Quim Torra, President of Catalonia
Pere Aragonès, Vice President of Catalonia
Isabel Díaz Ayuso, President of the Community of Madrid
 United States Francis X. Suarez, Mayor of Miami
Brenda Jones, President of the Detroit City Council
 United Kingdom Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Charles, Prince of Wales
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
Nadine Dorries, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
Alister Jack, Secretary of State for Scotland
 United Nations David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme
 EU Michel Barnier, Head of the UK Task Force

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