electoral reform

ERS: Expert panel on Senedd reform ‘vital step forward’ for Welsh democracy

1st February 2017
1 Feb 2017
Tags: 
ERS Cymru
ERS Wales
press release
panel on electoral reform
electoral reform
welsh assembly
Senedd
Size Matters
Reshaping the Senedd

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Statement from ERS Cymru for immediate release, 1st February 2017

For more information, quotes, or to arrange an interview, contact Dr Owain ap Gareth, ERS Cymru Research and Campaigns Officer, on Owain.apgareth@electoral-reform.org.uk or 07771661802 (English and Welsh)


Commenting on the National Assembly for Wales’ new Panel on Electoral Reform, Dr Owain ap Gareth, Campaigns and Research Officer for the Electoral Reform Society Cymru (ERS Cymru) said:

“We welcome the Assembly’s announcement of this independent panel. This is a vital step forward for Welsh democracy and paves the way for a stronger Senedd.

“Over the next few years issues such as Brexit will have significant impact on Wales, so the Assembly needs to have the sufficient numbers to deal with the challenges that will come along with this. It is clear that the current arrangements of the Assembly cannot respond to the demands that will be placed upon it, so it’s right that this is being looked at.

“Our report ‘Reshaping the Senedd’ [1] has already looked at the principles that should underpin this process, and we believe that more Assembly Members under a good and fair electoral system is fundamental in ensuring we have a democracy fit for the people of Wales at such an important time. Now is the time to boost both the capacity and calibre of the National Assembly for Wales at this crucial constitutional moment.  

“With votes at 16 having secured cross-party consensus in Wales, following its success in Scotland, it’s positive that this team of experts will look at how to deliver on extending the franchise. This change has the potential to transform how our young people engage with Welsh democracy, particularly if delivered alongside effective citizenship education in our schools and colleges.

“Finally, while we are fully supportive of this announcement, there is a need to bring the public along too in these discussions and engage with voters themselves on these key issues. We look forward to supporting the panel in this important work”.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact: Dr Owain ap Gareth, ERS Cymru Research and Campaigns Officer, on Owain.apgareth@electoral-reform.org.uk or 07771661802 (English and Welsh)

Notes to editor

[1] A link to ERS Cymru and the Wales Governance Centre’s ‘Reshaping the Senedd’ report can be found here: https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/publicatio...

ERS: Electoral reform proposals could revitalise local democracy in Wales

31st January 2017
31 Jan 2017
Tags: 
ERS Wales
press release
Mark Drakeford
stv
single transferable vote
electoral reform
ERS Cymru
welsh assembly

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Statement from ERS Cymru for immediate release, 31st January 2017, 12:00

For more information, quotes, or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on Josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk or 07717211630 (English language), or Dr Owain ap Gareth, ERS Cymru Research and Campaigns Officer, on Owain.apgareth@electoral-reform.org.uk or 07771661802 (English and Welsh)


Commenting on Finance and Local Government Secretary Mark Drakeford’s proposals to introduce proportional representation for local councils in Wales [1], Darren Hughes, Acting Director of ERS Cymru, said:

“This White Paper is a hugely encouraging sign, and shows that the Welsh government is serious about empowering voters and revitalising democracy in Wales.

“A fairer voting system for local government – which would allow voters to rank their candidates by preference [2] – would be a big step forward. Moving away from the Westminster winner-takes-all system across the board would mean everyone’s vote counted in local elections, drawing to a close the era of wasted votes and ‘holding your nose’.

“PR is a normal part of life for voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland, ensuring that all council seats are contested and that all votes count.

“We warmly welcome these proposals and will be responding to the consultation in full as it progresses.

“We commend the government for leading on this and look forward to working with Ministers on improving democracy for Welsh voters.”

A trend towards PR

“The direction of travel in the UK and across the world is towards more representative voting systems, rather than Parliament’s disproportionate First Past the Post system. It’s fantastic to see Wales potentially leading this trend.

“The Single Transferable Vote has been used in Scotland [3] for 10 years now, and in Northern Ireland since the 1970s, and gives fair results that represent the diverse swathe of opinion that exists. Systems that are more responsive to voters’ views will also be more responsive to their needs. 

“In the 2012 election, Wales had 99 uncontested council seats – with over 140,000 voters denied a say.  Part of this is down to a voting system that gives huge majorities on small chunks of the vote, and is a disincentive for choice.

“By contrast, in the final set of Scottish Local elections run under First Past the Post in 2003 Scotland had 61 uncontested seats – yet following the shift to the Single Transferable Vote in 2007 that figure hit zero. 

“At the same time, the average number of candidates standing per ward went from 3.4 in 2003 under FPTP to 7.1 in 2012 under STV, and the proportion of people seeing their first choice candidate elected soared from 52% in 2003 to 77% in 2012.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] See here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-38802658

[2] More information on the Single Transferable Vote system here: https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/single-transferable-vote

[3] To see how STV has improved local democracy in Scotland, see our research here:

Read the ERS’ report on the 2012 Scottish local government elections under STV here: https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/2012-Scottish-Local-Government-Elections.pdf

Graphic available for free use (with accreditation) below and here (as high-res PDF): http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/Impact%20of%20STV%20infographic.pdf

Leading figures from major parties unite to secure electoral reform by 2021

5th February 2016
5 Feb 2016
Tags: 
proportional representation
conference
electoral reform

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PR Alliance Building Conference will bring together high-profile politicians from every major party

  • Forward planning note from Make Votes Matter, for immediate release, 4th February 2016
  • Journalists will be able to interview speakers and participants
  • Date: Monday 8th February 2016, 13:30 - 18:00, followed by interviews, drinks and networking
  • Press accreditation and address available on request for journalists wishing to attend
  • For enquiries contact Klina Jordan on klina@makevotesmatter.org.uk or 07813 336 618

Leading figures from all the UK’s major parties will come together next Monday (8th February) to discuss how to achieve a proportional voting system for Westminster elections by 2021.

It follows rumours that Labour and the Liberal Democrats are discussing a potential pact to secure PR after the next General Election [1], and a joint letter signed by several party leaders in the Independent on Sunday [2].

The conference, organised by Make Votes Matter [3], draws together figures from across the spectrum, with a high-profile platform of speakers and participants:

Keynote speakers:

  • Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party
  • Katie Ghose, Chief Executive, Electoral Reform Society
  • Diane James, MEP for SE England, & Home Affairs Spokesperson, UKIP
  • Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, Labour
  • Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, Labour
  • Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, Scottish National Party
  • John Strafford, Vice Chairman, Conservative Action for Electoral Reform
  • Lord Paul Tyler, Liberal Democrats
  • Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, Labour
  • Hywel Williams, MP and Parliamentary Leader, Plaid Cymru

Organisers see the event as an opportunity for all the main political parties, pro-PR organisations, representatives of local democracy groups and public figures to form alliances in order to secure a proportional voting system following the next General Election.

A spokesperson for Make Votes Matter said:

“Last May’s General Election was the most disproportionate election ever in the UK. Votes per MP elected varied dramatically from party to party, ranging from just over 23,000 votes to almost 4 million, and when one quarter of voters are represented by 1.5% of Parliamentary seats, we cannot say we have real democracy.

“To secure a proportional voting system, all the pro-PR parties and organisations need to find the best way forward together, so we excited to be creating a space to start the conversation. The PR Alliance Building Conference is a historic opportunity to work collaboratively towards creating and implementing an effective strategy to get PR for Westminster by 2021.”

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

Last year saw over half a million people and five political parties come together to sign and deliver petitions calling for a fair voting system, so this conference is a very welcome next step in the push for a truly democratic voting system.

“Nearly every European country uses a Proportional Representation (PR) system, and here in the UK, public support for PR is at an all-time high, with three quarters of the public in favour. It’s great to see citizens and leading political figures coming together to work out how best to secure a fair voting system.”

Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party, said:

“The fact that we have a government without any kind of democratic mandate - with only the support of 24% of eligible voters, combined with our unelected House of Lords, is doing serious damage to trust in our democratic process. It's almost a century since the last significant change in Westminster. It was 1918 when women got the vote - we should not go past the anniversary of that without seeing a change to a fair, proportional electoral system, in both the Commons and the upper chamber.”

Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, Labour, said:

“First Past The Post has had its day. We cannot carry on with a voting system that disenfranchises millions and where winning an argument with the British public is a different task to winning the votes required to form a government.  It is not sustainable and I doubt the British people will continue to stand for it.”

Lord Paul Tyler of the Liberal Democrats, said:

“The public are urging us to act together.  This Government is throwing its weight around with the support of less than a quarter of the eligible electorate – they would brand any other government in the world with that level of mandate as illegitimate.”

Diane James MEP, UKIP Home Affairs and Justice Spokesperson:

“At the last general election, UKIP got 4 million votes and only one elected MP. This is patently untenable and things cannot go on like this. The first past the post electoral system is clearly bankrupt. We must have an electoral system where votes cast match seats allocated and introducing a proportional system will deliver a result that is both fair and more democratic.”

Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, Labour:

“The First Past The Post electoral system distorts our democracy, encourages adversarial politics and divides people. With the constitutional foundations of our nation cracking the case for electoral reform has never been stronger. The PR alliance is a doughty campaigner on this vital issue, and I am honoured to have been invited to speak at this important event.”

John Strafford, Vice Chairman, Conservative Action for Electoral Reform:

"Our electoral system is bust. Parliament no longer represents all the people of the United Kingdom. This democratic deficit has to be addressed. It is time for our political parties to come together to create a fair electoral system that will ensure that the views of all the people are taken into account".

Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, SNP:

“The current electoral system alienates people from politics and widens the divide between government and the governed. The first past the post system is unfair, undemocratic, and long past its sell by date.”

Programme

  • 13:30 – 14:00 Arrival, refreshments and networking
  • 14:00 – 14:40 Welcome from Owen Winter, Member of Youth Parliament and Make Votes Matter Spokesperson, followed by introductions
  • 14:40 – 15:20 Keynote ideas about how each of the parties plans to get PR and how collaboration with other groups could make this more likely
  • 15:20 – 16:00 Cream tea and bubbly: making connections for ongoing collaboration
  • 16:00 – 16:40 Open Space: facilitated plenary session to establish working group topics  
  • 16:40 – 17:20 Working groups arising from plenary discussion
  • 17:20 – 18:00 Closing circle – reports back from the working groups about what has been agreed and how their ideas will be taken forward
  • 18:00 – 19:30 Press interviews, photo opportunities, drinks, nibbles and networking

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-in-secret-talks-with-tim-farron-over-voting-reform-alliance-against-conservatives-a6830341.html

[2] www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/electoral-reform-party-leaders-call-for-pact-to-achieve-alternative-voting-system-after-next-a6843716.html

[3] Make Votes Matter is a campaign organisation focused on getting Proportional Representation in the House of Commons by 2021. Their formation was triggered by the most disproportionate election in UK history, and they are a non-partisan, democratically-organised group with over 238,000 supporters. MVM’s Declaration for Voting Reform has been signed by hundreds of people, high profile figures and organisations, including Unlock Democracy, the Electoral Reform Society, the Green Party, the Peter Tatchell Foundation and Frankie Boyle.