Mark Drakeford

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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07717211630

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