Campaigners call for parties to back ‘vital’ Senedd reforms

Posted on the 10th September 2020

Electoral Reform Society Cymru throws weight behind official Committee on Senedd Reform findings: “Now is the time to act to level up Welsh democracy”.

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society Cymru – Thursday 10th September 2020. Contact Jess Blair on 07773555390 / [email protected] for comment or to arrange an interview. 

The Electoral Reform Society Cymru (ERS Cymru) has called for political parties to act in response following fresh calls for for an increase in the number of Senedd members, a move to the Single Transferable Voting System (STV) and more measures to improve diversity.  

The final report from the Committee on Senedd Reform echoes the findings of the 2017 Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform [1], in backing a move to STV and increasing voters’ representation in the chamber. STV is viewed as the ‘gold standard’ of proportional representation by reformers, as it gives voters a clearer say over which candidates get elected.

The report, published today [Thursday], makes long-awaited recommendations for strengthening Welsh democracy calling for an increase in the size of the Senedd from just 60, up to 80-90 members, in line with increasing responsibilities.

Despite an increase in devolved powers in the two decades since devolution the number of Members of the Senedd (MSs) has remained the same, something which many have highlighted is untenable.

The report also recommends policy changes to improve diversity in Welsh political life in order to increase the representation and role of women and minorities in the Senedd and taking positive action to overcome structural barriers for other protected characteristics, such as ethnicity, race and disabilities.

Commenting on the report, Jess Blair, Director of ERS Cymru, said:

“It has been well over 15 years since an increase in the size of the Senedd was first recommended. In that time the Senedd has gained more powers while having insufficient capacity to properly scrutinise legislation and hold the Welsh Government to account. We cannot continue to stall something that is so desperately needed.

“The truth is that the Senedd is operating chronically over-capacity – and it is ordinary voters in Wales who lose out. Politicians in all parties recognise the need for reform, but too many are choosing to play politics with the issue, avoiding making the crucial decision that would give the Welsh people the voice they deserve.

“Last July, the Senedd passed a motion calling for an increase in the Parliament’s size, and this report again unequivocal that this needs to happen, or too many crucial issues and problems could fall through the cracks. The public needs a Welsh Parliament that has the resources to act and hold ministers to account. [2]

“It is now time for parties to grasp the nettle, and commit to enacting these important and positive reforms in the first part of the next Senedd term. Stronger scrutiny pays for itself. Let’s boost Welsh democracy and build a Senedd fit for the challenges of the future.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

[1]  Link: https://senedd.wales/NAfW%20Documents/About%20the%20Assembly%20section%20documents/Expert%20Panel%20on%20Assembly%20Electoral%20Reform/A%20Parliament%20that%20Works%20for%20Wales.pdf

[2]https://business.senedd.wales/ieIssueDetails.aspx?IId=25789&Opt=3

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