With great power, comes a great need for accountability. While not the catchiest slogan in the world, as Wales gets more powers this year it’s going to become a truism.
Today ERS Cymru are launching our first manifesto - calling on parties to get behind votes at 16, online voting pilots and a monthly ‘Citizens’ Question Time’ in the Assembly in the run up to May’s Assembly election.
With the Wales Bill making its way through Westminster, we’re laying down a challenge for parties to get behind proposals for revitalising democracy in Wales, with the launch of ‘Breathing New Life into Politics’. It’s the first of three manifestos we’re publishing ahead of May’s Assembly elections.
The 19 policy recommendations in the democratic reform manifesto include piloting a ‘Citizens’ Committee’ in the Senedd to scrutinise Ministers, introducing Proportional Representation for local elections, and making it possible to vote anywhere in Wales.
With parties planning their manifestos in the run up to May, they have a chance to kick-start a ‘democratic revival’ in Wales as the election race heats up.
We hope all parties embrace the 19 recommendations in this manifesto as crucial moves to change the way we do politics in Wales for the better.
Over the last two decades the shape of Welsh politics has changed enormously. We now live in an era of multi-party politics. But our institutions are under growing strain, while voters in Wales feel increasingly disconnected from politics. It’s time to bring democracy closer to the people.
Here’s some of the policies we’re calling for:
- Reduce safe and uncontested seats and give voters more choice by introducing the Single Transferable Vote (STV) for local and Assembly elections;
- Make voting easier by piloting new methods like on-line and electronic voting, weekend voting and early voting;
- Allow people to ‘vote on the go’ in any Polling Station in their county, not just the one in their local community;
- Lower the voting age to 16
- Ensure any directly elected mayors, health commissioners or NHS boards are elected via a multi-preference voting system
- Support an increase in the number of Assembly Members to 100;
- Introduce a monthly Citizens’ Question Time, whereby members of the public can submit written questions for answer by Welsh Ministers
We’ve laid down the challenge – now’s the chance to embrace this opportunity to make Wales a world-leader in democratic reform.
The next two policy-themed mini-manifestos will be launched in March and April, on diversity/accessibility and open government/transparency.