Major milestones on the road to reform
Thanks to the hard work of the team, we have reached some of the key milestones we identified on the way to winning electoral reform.
Labour and Unions move towards anti-First Past the Post policy
In a First Past the Post system, it’s almost impossible to win substantial change without the support of a major party. While many individual Labour members and MPs support changing our voting system, historically the Labour party as a whole has been opposed to proportional representation. As such, convincing Labour to make a cultural shift and become a party that supports electoral reform forms an integral part of our theory of change.
The ERS provides support to the ongoing campaign by Labour members in Labour for a New Democracy to win round their party to electoral reform. This year they successfully organised around Labour’s National Policy Forum process which saw the final policy document stating that First Past The Post is flawed and damaging. This position was endorsed wholeheartedly by the Labour conference in October.
This work builds on from the vote in favour of proportional representation by Labour members at Labour Conference in 2022. The vote as supported by a huge majority of the constituency parties and a majority of the affiliated Unions. In April this year USDAW, the shop workers union, came on board as their conference passed a motion against First Past the Post.
With the support of the ERS, trade unionists in Politics for the Many are working to solidify these victories, with events and articles making the case for why electoral reform is a trade union issue.
The Senedd gains the members it needs
ERS Cymru has long been campaigning for a reform of the Senedd/Welsh Parliament. We published our Size Matters report a decade ago, calling for the size of the Senedd to be increased and since then have seen a panel of experts and numerous committees within the Senedd agreeing that the Senedd needs more members. At just 60 members, the Senedd is dwarfed by both Stormont and the Scottish Parliament and is the same size or smaller than nearly half of Welsh Councils.
Finally this is being addressed with the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill introduced in the Senedd in September. This Bill, if passed, would see the Senedd increased to 96 members and will introduce a closed list PR system for Senedd elections.
We have responded to the Bill in the press raising concerns around the voting system chosen but welcoming the moves to address capacity issues within the Senedd. We have also submitted written evidence to the Senedd Committee scrutinising the legislation and have also appeared before the committee to share our views and research.
We anticipate a further piece of legislation will be introduced by the end of the year introducing gender quotas to Senedd elections. This is something we have campaigned for as part of the Diverse 50:50 coalition.
Building a coalition for reform
To win a reform as fundamental as changing our electoral system, we will need a broad coalition of organisations, beyond the ‘usual voices’ of democratic reform.
We are building an effective network of groups and organisations who are supportive of democratic reform. This year most of our major projects have been in collaboration or partnership with other organisations helping to maximise our impact and encourage more groups and organisations to get involved in democratic reform.
From PR to voter ID, we have formed a range of new connections across our sector, both in the UK and beyond to other Westminster-style democracies globally, to ensure that we are working as collaboratively and effectively as possible to create change.