Breathing new life into Welsh politics

18 Feb 2016

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.


Read all the recommendations in ‘Breathing New Life into Politics’ here (in Welsh and English)

The next two policy-themed mini-manifestos will be launched in March and April, on diversity/accessibility and open government/transparency. 


7 Responses to Breathing new life into Welsh politics

Mike Drew 19 Feb 2016

We have to be careful about the potential loss of secret ballot. I am happy to vote on on-line as long as it is from a secure location where there is some guarantee that the vote may not be susceptible to undue influence.

Peter Costley 19 Feb 2016

1.       Do not agree to lessening the age from 18 to 16.  
2.       Why does one need to increase the Assemly membership to 100 - usually one needs to effect reductions - like the House of Commons from 650 to 500 and the Lords from 800 to 300 at most. 
3.       No to STV.  The present part FPTP and part PR are right except that the PR element should be at least 40% of total seats.
4.       No to making voting easier or allowing it on-line.  Postal voting is very open to fraud and voting anywhere too can produce problems.
Peter C

G C TAGG 19 Feb 2016

The STV is forcing people to vote for candidates who do not necessarily represent their views and beliefs. Candidates are not held to their campaign promises so voting for another candidate who promises similar values does not necessarily guarantee that candidate will follow through on promises.
Young 16 year old adults do not have have enough exposure to the dirty tricks of politicians to make a reasonable judgment on voting for who runs the country. We are all well aware of the extremist views that are canvassed throughout our institutions of learning and I don't believe that a balanced approach is enforced throughout the campuses. Young adults should have a wider exposure to the working environment before being allowed to vote for their chosen candidate
Voting on line is fraught with exposure to fraud. Unless biometrics are used to eliminate duplication or fraudulent, fictitious, electorate and proper custody of ballot boxes and collation methods improved.
Any elected official should be answerable to a non-political, unbiased body from the general public 

Paul Smith 19 Feb 2016

Now several banks have launched voice recognition to make bank transactions, would this be feasible for secure voting?

Tony Roberts 19 Feb 2016

I do agree with much of the manifesto commitment but having brought up 2 sons I feel (and so do they) that at 16 years old they were not informed enough to to cast a vote. I think therefore I would not agree with this proposal.
why more AMs? Surely we have enough politicians with two layers of MPs/AMs in Wales already?
overall I agree with the proposals but would not sign up to these
best wishes

M-Kallahan 20 Feb 2016

No No No
we do not another lot of ploiticians costing us even more money let the pack we have do some good

kathryn ost 20 Feb 2016

Since when have 16 year-olds had enough experience of life in general and the world outside their own limited spheres to be entrusted with a vote equal in value to that of an adult of, maybe, 60+ years? Will it be votes for 10 year-olds next?

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