Size Matters

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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07771661802

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...

Reshaping the Senedd: New report shows how to elect a larger, more effective National Assembly

30th November 2016
30 Nov 2016
Tags: 
wales
ERS Wales
welsh assembly
Reshaping the Senedd
Size Matters

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For immediate release: Wednesday 30 November 2016

Contact: Richard Thomas, Wales Governance Centre, 07960 688851. Owain ap Gareth, Electoral Reform Society, 07771 661802


New proposals for electing a larger, more effective and accountable Assembly have been set out by Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre and Electoral Reform Society Cymru.

In the first analysis of how a larger Assembly should be elected as it takes on increased powers, the report – Reshaping the Senedd – outlines seven principles, such as simplicity and proportionality that should inform how a larger Assembly could be elected.

It recommends two preferred options:

Single Transferable Vote (STV) –  87 members elected in 29, 3-member constituencies

Open List – 87 members elected in 29, 3-member constituencies

Adapting the current Additional Member System (AMS) is also a plausible, if unwieldy, option.

The report follows the cross-party Silk Commission’s recommendation for a larger Assembly, which formed the basis of the cross-party St David’s Day Agreement in March 2015.

The Assembly is set to be given the power to change its size and voting system, subject to the passing of the Wales Bill, but only with two-thirds of AMs voting in favour, meaning cross-party agreement is needed. 

Co-Author and ERS Cymru Campaigns and Research Officer, Dr. Owain ap Gareth, said:

“New tax powers, and the prospect of additional powers from Europe make the case for a larger, fairly-elected Assembly, stronger than ever.

“Given that many now recognise the need for a more effective and accountable Assembly, Reshaping the Senedd’ moves from the ‘why’ to the ‘how’.  It looks at practical ways to achieve a larger, more democratic Assembly that can deal with the new challenges and opportunities that will arise through the Wales Bill and following Brexit.

“Consensus is not just desirable but essential for change to happen.  That is how it should be: changes to the rules of the game require a different kind of debate that goes beyond partisan politics.

“This report gives people the key principles and practical tools to have a clear-headed and positive debate about how we make a bolstered Assembly work better for voters and Welsh politics as a whole.”

The Acting Director of Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre, Professor Roger Scully said: 

“Our report provides seven principles against which to assess the main possible voting systems. We want all parties to sign up to these principles as a basis for rational debate.

“The report finds several systems, such as Westminster’s “First Past the Post” system, unsuitable. Adapting the current system is more palatable, whilst the systems that best balance the principles are either an “open list” or the Single Transferable Vote in 29, three-member constituencies.

“There is no perfect system that fully satisfies every principle, so this is about finding the right balance. 

“We know that parties will approach this from different standpoints, so this report can be used as a serious basis and common ground for discussions that can help build the necessary agreement to take Welsh democracy forward.”

ENDS

Editor’s Notes:

1.     A full copy of the report is attached and also available at http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/wgc/publications/:

2.     The earlier Size Matters report which made the case for a larger Assembly is available here.

3.     Electoral Reform Society Cymru is an independent campaigning organisation working to champion the rights of voters and build a better democracy in Wales. We offer an independent voice, and work to shape the democratic debate at all levels. We put the interests of the citizens within our democracy first.

We believe:

— Every vote and every voice has value and should be heard

— Everyone should be able to shape the decisions that affect their lives

— Our institutions should reflect the people they serve

— People should be able to hold those in power to account

— Politics should offer people real alternatives

For more information about the Electoral Reform Society, please visit: www.electoral-reform.org.uk

4.     The Wales Governance Centre is a Cardiff University research centre undertaking innovative research into all aspects of the law, politics, government and political economy of Wales, as well the wider UK and European contexts of territorial governance.

5.     Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework ranked the University 5th in the UK for research excellence. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University Chancellor Professor Sir Martin Evans.  Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff’s flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to pressing global problems. www.cardiff.ac.uk