With only 60 AMs, Welsh democracy is overstretched. But how how might a larger Assembly be elected?
With only 60 AMs, Welsh democracy is overstretched. Due to Cabinet and official appointments, the National assembly has barely 42 backbenchers available to scrutinise the government. There are simply not enough backbench AMs to fill all the committee seats and develop the specialist knowledge they need to do the job properly. We need more Assembly Members so our representatives can hold the Welsh government to account.
With Westminster discussing lowering the number of Welsh MPs it is time for a mature debate about the balance of Welsh political representation.
Size Matters, written in 2013 jointly with the UK’s Changing Union project (a partnership including Cardiff University Wales Governance Centre and the Institute of Welsh Affairs), sets out the case for increasing the number of AMs from 60 to 100.
Since 2013, the Welsh Assembly has gained even more powers, with more on the horizon, and Brexit making the prospects of substantial responsibilities moving from Brussels to Cardiff Bay.
These developments strengthen further the core argument of Size Matters: as more powers accrue to Wales it is necessary to ensure that there are enough Assembly Members to scrutinise a powerful Welsh Executive.
But one question which our previous report left entirely unaddressed was how a larger Assembly might be elected. Increasing the number of AMs would require some adjustment in current electoral arrangements – but how, and on what basis, should this be done? This is the subject of our new report.
We believe that the Single Transferable Vote or a particular version of Open List would best provide the basis for a stable and lasting electoral system for the National Assembly for Wales. Indeed, we believe that both the latter systems could readily be implemented alongside, and in tandem with, the move to 29 constituencies in Wales.