welsh assembly

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

ERS Cymru welcomes expected Senedd support for Wales Bill // Datganiad ERS Cymru i bleidlais disgwyliedig o gefnogaeth gan y Cynulliad i Fesur Cymru

17th January 2017
17 Jan 2017
Tags: 
Wales Bill
devolution
ERS Cymru
ERS Wales
Senedd
welsh assembly

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***Bilingual Press Release: Scroll down for Welsh***

***Datganiad Dwyieithog: Scroliwch lawr am y Gymraeg***

  • Statement from ERS Cymru for immediate release, 17th January 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

Commenting on the Welsh Assembly’s expected vote in support of the Wales Bill, Dr Owain ap Gareth, Research and Campaigns Officer for ERS Cymru, said:

“While the legislation is by no means perfect, it’s welcome that the Assembly looks set to back the Wales Bill. The Bill paves the way for a much stronger Senedd, and a greater voice for Welsh citizens over the laws that affect their lives. Giving the Assembly control over its own processes is a vital democratic move, and the two-thirds majority needed under the Bill to change the ‘rules of the game’ protect voters from any partisan self-interest.

“We support the move to a Reserved powers model. However, the process of developing the Bill has left much to be desired in terms of clear principles about what devolution in the UK is for and where we are going. Given the confusion that has surrounded this Bill, we hope that lessons will be learnt in Whitehall that there needs to be better dialogue with Welsh devolved institutions on the basis of partnership, rather than simply muddling through and hoping for the best.

“This approach has led to a bits-and-pieces process and a settlement that is far less clear than it could and should have been. We hope these lessons will be learned as the Bill continues to progress. Good, clear governance structures are vitally important for Wales to face the challenges ahead, and we hope the next stages for Welsh devolution are both clear and agreed with real and meaningful dialogue with Welsh voters and elected politicians here.

“Cardiff Bay and Westminster face significant challenges over the next few years and it is important that they are able to work effectively together, whatever their party hue. Now it’s time to look at ways to make the devolution process smoother going forwards – and learn lessons for the future to ensure the best possible outcome for the people of Wales.”

ENDS

 

Datganiad ERS Cymru i bleidlais disgwyliedig o gefnogaeth gan y Cynulliad i Fesur Cymru

  • Datganiad gan ERS Cymru i’w ryddhau ar unwaith, Ionawr 17, 2017
  • Am fwy o wybodaeth, dyfyniadau, neu i drefnu cyfweliad, cysylltwch â Dr Owain ap Gareth, Swyddog Ymchwil ac Ymgyrch, ar Owain.apgareth@electoral-reform.org.uk neu 07771661802

Yn ymateb i bleidlais ddisgwyledig Cynulliad Cymru heddiw yn cefnogi Mesur Cymru, dywedodd Dr Owain ap Gareth, Swyddog Ymchwil a Ymgyrchoedd gyfer ERS Cymru hyn:

"Er yn bell o fod yn berffaith, rydym yn croeso fod Aelodau'r Cynulliad am bleidleisio i gefnogi Mesur Cymru. Tra nid yw ar unrhyw gyfrif yn berffaith, mae'r Mesur yn paratoi'r ffordd ar gyfer Senedd gryfach o lawer, a mwy o lais i ddinasyddion Cymru dros y cyfreithiau sy'n effeithio ar eu bywydau. Mae rhoi rheolaeth y Cynulliad dros ei brosesau eu hunain yn gam democrataidd hanfodol, ac mae’r angen o fwyafrif o ddwy ran o dair i newid y 'rheolau’r gêm' yn diogelu pleidleiswyr rhag hunan-fudd pleidiol.

"Rydym yn cefnogi'r symudiad i fodel “pwerau neilltuedig”. Serch hynny, mae'r broses o ddatblygu'r Mesur wedi bod yn hynod anfoddhaol o safbwynt sefydlu egwyddorion clir ynghylch yr hyn mae datganoli yn y DU i’w gyflawni, ac i ble yr ydym yn mynd. O ystyried y dryswch a fu ynghylch y Mesur hwn, rydym yn gobeithio y bydd gwersi'n cael eu dysgu yn Whitehall ynglŷn â chynnal gwell deialog gyda sefydliadau datganoledig yng Nghymru ar sail partneriaeth, yn hytrach na dim ond creu proses ar hap a gobeithio am y gorau.

"Mae'r dull hwn wedi arwain at broses anhylaw a thameidiog, gan orffen fyny gyda setliad sy'n llawer llai eglur nag y gallai - ac y dylai - wedi bod. Rydym yn gobeithio y bydd gwersi yn cael eu dysgu o hyn. Mae strwythurau llywodraethu da, clir yn hanfodol bwysig i Gymru i wynebu'r heriau sydd o'n blaen, ac rydym yn gobeithio bydd y camau nesaf o ddatganoli yn gliriach ac yn cael ei wireddu drwy ddeialog go iawn gyda phleidleiswyr Cymru a chynrychiolwyr etholedig yma yng Nghymru.

"Mae Bae Caerdydd a San Steffan yn wynebu heriau sylweddol dros y blynyddoedd nesaf, ac mae'n bwysig eu bod yn gallu gweithio'n effeithiol gyda'i gilydd, beth bynnag yw’r pleidiau yn llywodraethu. Mae'n bryd edrych ar ffyrdd o wneud y daith ddatganoli yn fwy llyfn -. a dysgu’r gwersi ar gyfer y dyfodol i sicrhau y canlyniad gorau posibl i bobl Cymru."

DIWEDD

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

Vote change will 'damage democracy and devolution'

22nd November 2011
22 Nov 2011
Tags: 
fptp
first past the post
welsh assembly
wales
research

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New figures released by the Electoral Reform Society Wales (ERS) show the extent to which Welsh Labour would disproportionately benefit if First Past The Post was exclusively adopted for future Assembly elections.

The figures are contained in a report² produced by the Society in conjunction with the Aberystwyth Institute of Welsh Politics and Prof. Roger Scully. The report details what the results in the 2011 Assembly election could have looked like under different voting systems.

The issue of electoral reform for the National Assembly is back on the agenda after the Secretary of State for Wales indicated she may change how AMs are elected.

The UK Government is likely to propose a reduction in the number of constituency AMs from 40 to 30, in line with the reduction in numbers of Welsh MPs³. To compensate, more AMs would be elected using the regional list system – 30, instead of the current 20.

Responding to this proposal, Welsh Labour has stated that it would prefer all AMs be elected by First Past The Post – two from each of the 30 constituencies with a system known as Two Member First Past The Post.

However, as ERS research reveals, Two Member First Past The Post would deny thousands of Welsh voters a voice in the National Assembly and disproportionately benefit Labour.

Steve Brooks, Wales Director of the Electoral Reform Society said:

Our research shows that Labour would have won nearly 70% of the seats in the National Assembly, had the last election been fought using Two Member First Past the Post. This is despite the fact that Labour secured around 40% of the vote.

“While this may be good news for aspiring Labour candidates, its bad news for Welsh voters. Two Member First Past The Post would rob thousands of voters of a choice and voice.

Over half of Welsh voters chose the Tories, Plaid Cymru or the Liberal Democrats in May this year, yet under Two Member First Past The Post, those parties would be left with less than a third of the seats in the Assembly. That would be damaging for democracy and damaging for devolution.”

The research from the Electoral Reform Society Wales also reveals how the different parties would fare if Wales used the Single Transferable Vote, the system used to choose MPs in Ireland.[4]

Professor Roger Scully, Director of the Institute of Welsh Politics, stated:

The Assembly voting system has already been discussed in detail by the independent Richard Commission. The Commissioners, chosen on a cross-party basis and looking at the evidence, came to the decision that 80-member STV was the most suitable voting system for a Welsh Assembly with legislative powers”.

Steve Brooks added:

Had the recommendations been implemented Labour would have secured 40 of the 80 seats. Voters would have had more of choice over who represents them locally, and who governs them nationally”.

Commenting on the row between the UK and Welsh governments on Assembly voting reform, Steve Brooks said:

A proportional system is part of the devolution package and it’s been endorsed in two referendums. How we choose our politicians is fundamental to how our democracy works. Any change to the voting system should be carefully considered, above day-to-day party politics. There needs to be a genuine cross-party dialogue with the people of Wales”.

ENDS

Download the full report here: Welsh Election Report (English language version) or here: Welsh Election Report (Welsh language version)

For more information or for interview requests you can contact:

Stephen Brooks stephen.brooks@electoral-reform.org.uk, 07525619622

Owain ap Gareth owain.apgareth@electoral-reform.org.uk, 07771661802

ERS London Media Office 020 7202 8601

Summary of Findings

The report examines the outcomes of 30 constituencies with two Assembly Members (AMs) elected in each under First Past the Post (FPTP), the Single Transferable Vote (STV) and the Additional Member System (AMS): See graphs and tables of the projected election results.

Notes to Editors

1. The Electoral Reform Society Wales aims to build a better democracy by ensuring that the electoral processes of Westminster & Wales are fair and accountable. Find out more at www.electoral-reform.org.uk/wales
2. The report, written by elections experts, academic Prof. Roger Scully and ERS Wales’ researcher Dr Owain ap Gareth, the report compares projections of what the results could have looked like under different voting systems and questions the impact of the proposed Boundary Changes. The report strongly recommends that any proposed change to the voting system would also need to take into account whether it is necessary or desirable to link the National Assembly for Wales constituencies to Westminster constituencies.
3. The boundary changes instigated by the UK Government propose to cut the number of Welsh MPs from 40 to 30.