Darren Hughes appointed Chief Executive of Electoral Reform Society

Posted on the 7th August 2017

Previous Deputy Chief Executive, and former New Zealand Minister and MP, takes helm at UK’s leading democracy group after Katie Ghose

Darren Hughes has been named Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, the UK’s leading democratic reform group. 

He joins the world’s longest-standing pro-democracy organisation [1] after serving as Deputy Chief Executive of the Society since 2014.

Mr Hughes’ appointment follows previous CE Katie Ghose’s move to become Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, and comes at a time of major opportunities and challenges for democracy in the UK.

Mr Hughes previously served as a Member of Parliament and Minister in New Zealand, bringing practical political experience alongside a Commonwealth citizen’s perspective to the role during Britain’s Brexit process.

He will launch the ERS’ definitive report on the General Election in mid-August. 

The ERS has become the leading voice on democratic issues over the past five years, with a widened remit as the ‘pressure group for voters’.

In a statement to staff and council members on Monday, Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, will say:

“It’s a great privilege to be taking on this role at a time of huge change for democracy in the UK.

“Our organisation has grown significantly over the past few years, establishing its position as the UK’s leading voice on how our politics works for voters, and becoming a diverse and highly respected commentator on a range of democratic issues.

“It’s an honour to be taking over from Katie Ghose and I look forward to continuing her efforts to improve how our politics works.

On the election result

“The General Election in June saw millions of people feel forced to vote tactically to keep out a ‘lesser evil’ – rather than opt for who they really support. One in five – double the proportion of 2015 – held their nose at the ballot box and tried to second guess other voters.

“Meanwhile millions of wasted votes piled up in safe seats across the country, with a majority of ballots going effectively uncounted. That’s no way to run a modern democracy – and does nothing for faith in politics.

“The campaign for a fair, proportional voting system is stepping up, particularly more and more Labour and trade union figures coming on board.

Brexit

“Brexit offers a choice to rethink how we do politics here. We have the chance to spread power to the nations and regions of the UK. This is an opportunity that must not be wasted.

“Yet there are serious concerns that the public are being left out of the Brexit process. There has been very little attempt to engage the public on the key debates – with the General Election largely overlooking this huge constitutional shift.

“Global democracies are moving towards voting systems where votes count and voices are heard.  New Zealand has over twenty years of experience of minority government and power-sharing between parties, which have resulted in governments led by the centre-right and centre-left and no question about the country being both a strong and stable democracy and economy.

“Just as trade negotiators arrive from around the Commonwealth to help with post-Brexit trade talks, I hope to bring perspectives of similar Westminster-style democracies who have modernised to proportional representation where seats match votes.”

Chair of the ERS’ council, Jon Walsh, said: 

“We are delighted to announce Darren Hughes’ appointment as Chief Executive of the ERS. Darren has great plans for the organisation and will give real leadership on democratic reform at this pivotal time for British politics. We look forward to this exciting new phase in the ERS’ history.

“There is a lot of work ahead to make our democracy work for all, but with an outstanding staff team and a renewed vision, we are confident about this next chapter in the campaign for fair votes and a deeper democracy.”

ENDS

To arrange an interview, contact mediaoffice@electoral-reform.org.uk / 07717211630. www.electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes to Editors

[1] The Electoral Reform Society was founded in 1884 as the Proportional Representation Society. It is the world’s longest standing pro-democracy organisation and the UK’s leading democratic reform group.

As the ‘pressure group for voters’, the ERS works with parties, civil society groups, academics, members and supporters, as well as the wider public, to campaign for a better democracy in the UK.

The ERS’ vision is of a democracy fit for the 21st century, where every voice is heard, every vote is valued equally, and every citizen is empowered to take part.

The Society makes the case for lasting political reforms, we seek to embed democracy into the heart of public debate, and we foster the democratic spaces which encourage active citizenship.