Welsh civil society launches ‘democracy manifesto’ for 2021 Senedd elections

Josiah Mortimer, former Head of Communications

Posted on the 6th July 2020

Civil society groups led by ERS Cymru have launched their ‘democracy asks’ for the 2021 Welsh Senedd elections, throwing down the gauntlet for Welsh parties to back real democracy for voters.

The ‘Manifesto for Democracy’ – spearheaded by Electoral Reform Society Cymru and backed by Colleges Wales, Oxfam Cymru, WEN Wales, IWA and Chwarae Teg – calls for:

  1. A stronger Senedd: A size that reflects the powers and challenges of a Parliament, with proper scrutiny through 90 members, elected by STV with an ‘equality floor’ to ensure diversity
  2. Fair representation for all: STV for all local elections – ‘permissive’ PR risks leaving out councils that need reform the most.  At a local level, we want to see the sector collecting and publishing diversity data, and a far-reaching Access to Elected Office Fund introduced
  3. Democracy beyond the ballot box: Adoption of deliberative democracy tools into standard policy making processes, with tools such as participatory budgeting and citizens’ assemblies regularly used
  4. Young citizens: A commitment to statutory political education within schools to tackle the democratic deficit and foster civic engagement

The Democracy Manifesto is being sent to political parties in Wales. ERS Cymru were instrumental in campaigning for votes at 16/17, but there’s much more to do when it comes to democracy in Wales.

The Society wants to see full implementation of the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform’s recommendations – to increase the number of Members of the Senedd to around 90, alongside implementation of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) with an integrated gender quota. The Society also wants to see proportional representation guaranteed for local elections.

While there’s been some good progress over the past few years, trust in politics remains low and we need a democratic renewal, to put real power in the hands of voters.

Campaigners want to see a greater role for participatory democracy. With the Senedd having real powers over political reform, Wales can lead the way in building a Parliament fit for the 21st century.

The ERS are urging parties to lead on this and get behind bold innovations that can empower the public, and create a new contract with the people of Wales for the next Parliament.

A spokesperson for ColegauCymru said: “We are pleased to support ERS Cymru’s asks ahead of next year’s Senedd elections. We particularly welcome the vision of working towards a stronger and more diverse Senedd, and the recognition of the importance of improving the political education of young people in Wales – particularly in light of new laws which lower the voting age for the 2021 Senedd Elections.”

Read the Manifesto for Democracy here.

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