Campaigners hail ‘historic moment’ as Senedd backs votes at 16 for next election

Senedd Members discuss the changes

Campaigners have hailed the passing of bill giving 16-year-olds the vote in Senedd elections as a ‘historic moment for democracy in Wales’.

The Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill will deliver the biggest boost to the franchise in Wales in half a century, the Electoral Reform Society said.

Members of the Senedd voted 41 to 19 with no abstentions. The Bill required forty out of sixty members to vote for the bill to pass.

The Bill will give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote in the 2021 Assembly elections, a significant change for young people in Wales. They are set to get the vote for local elections soon too, in line with Scotland.

The passing of the Senedd Bill will also extend the vote in the Assembly elections to all foreign nationals resident in Wales and change the name of the institution to Senedd Cymru/ Welsh Parliament.

“This is a historic moment for democracy in Wales,” ERS Cymru Director, Jess Blair said.

“Extending the vote to 16 and 17-year olds will give young people across Wales a voice in critical decisions about who runs this country, and make the decisions that affect their everyday lives.

“Tonight, the Senedd has made a substantial step forward in modernising our electoral rules – showing how Wales can do things differently 20 years after devolution.

“It is now imperative that over the next 18 months our institutions work together to deliver an effective campaign informing young people of their new right to vote and ensuring they are on the electoral roll.

“Wales now joins Scotland in delivering the right to vote to 16 and 17-year-olds, but young people in England and Northern Ireland are still missing this right. It is now vital that the next UK Government gives the vote to young people for General Elections and local elections to ensure we have a truly national franchise.

“Meanwhile, in Wales we mustn’t get complacent about the next stages of Assembly reform. Increasing the size of the assembly is the next step in delivering a Senedd fit for the 21st century and parties much now take this forward in manifestos for the next election.”

The Conservative party voted against the bill, with AM Andrew RT Davies saying it was a “stitch-up job”.

“The left-wing political establishment passes a stitch-up job in an attempt to fix the voting system in the Welsh Assembly, with foreign nationals now allowed to vote in Welsh elections,” he said.

“Labour and Plaid are driving the Assembly further from the people!”

‘Contribution’

Speaking after the vote, Plaid Cymru AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said they were “proud” to have ensured the passing of the bill.

“Plaid Cymru are proud to have ensured the passing of this Bill today which will ensure that the young people of Wales can participate in Wales’ democracy.

“This Bill is a reflection of the evolution of our Assembly into a national Senedd for the people of Wales.  A crucial part of that is the ability of our young citizens to become a part of the political process.

“By extending the right to vote to 16 and 17-year-olds we show young people that we trust them, we’re ready to listen to them and we take their opinions seriously.

“It’s wonderful to see that the Youth Parliament has made such an impact in its first year and it is proof enough that the young people of Wales have a massive contribution to make and are ready and able to shape their world, their Wales.”

The party, however, said that they were disappointed that the Labour Welsh Government blocked an amendment to the bill that would have given the Senedd a Welsh-only name.

“Their intransigence was deeply frustrating,” Rhun ap Iorwerth said.

“However, Plaid Cymru’s persistence, supported by a number of Labour backbenchers, has been successful in ensuring that AMs in the future will be known as Aelod o’r Senedd/Member of the Senedd.

“So, in effect, we’ve won the debate on what the institution will be called from today.”

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Ernie The SmallholderHuw DaviesGlenGaynorjr humphrys Recent comment authors
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Theresa Green
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Theresa Green

The wisdom and maturity of 16/17 year olds seems to continually reduce and if anything there is a case to make the voting age 21 plus.
However I can well see why the Welsh Government would want to make such a decision as these easily impressionable young people are more like ly to vote for Plaid and Labour until they learn enough to make them wiser.
Catch ’em young, brainwash them when they are young, and hope they stay brainwashed. That’s the way to do it!

Leigh Richards
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Leigh Richards

Lol you sound like the kind of right wing bigot that would like to see the franchise withheld from the working classes too. Indeed you probably regard the extension in voting rights included in the 1831 reform bill as being a step too far 😊

gareth davies
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gareth davies

I haven’t got a problem with reducing the voting age to 16 so long as the age of majority is similarly lowered. It is usual that those advocating reducing the voting age insist on maintaining the age of criminal ‘adulthood’ as 18. That is a disingenuous position, as the maturity needed for responsible voting implies that other civic responsibilities should also be imparted on the individual, including criminality and those such as marriage and serving in the forces that presently require parental consent.

Rhosddu
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Rhosddu

You didn’t mention the 33,000 foreign nationals currently living in Wales, and who will now be allowed to vote. Do you honestly think a significant percentage of them are going to vote for Plaid?

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Foreign nationals will probably make more logical decisions than those made by the habitually tribal natives who still think that “change” is something that rattles loose in your pocket or purse.

Ernie The Smallholder
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Ernie The Smallholder

These foreign nationals should have been living and working in Wales for a qualifying period.
We, at present, do not have a Naturalisation Act defining the people as citizens of Wales.
So, what you will define as a Welsh citizen unfortunately is not cast in law, and our Welsh senedd does not yet have the power to define citizenships and issue Welsh passports.
In effect we could all be defined as foreign nationals until we have Welsh naturalisation.

Gaynor
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Gaynor

Pray tell me what wisdom have the maturer politicians given us this last 10 yrs!? Your argument holds no water

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Juvenile politicians need juvenile voters to support them !

Gaynor
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Gaynor

Well the current adults are more infantile,! bring on voting for 16 yrd olds but what is most important is teaching constitunal affairs etc in school. Look at the level of political knowledg and quality of debate in Ireland and Scotland, and weep for the ignorance of the welsh electorate, .

Alwyn J Evans
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Alwyn J Evans

No taxation without representation. It’s ridiculous that the vote has been withheld for so long. Hopefully, this spurs Westminster into the same action.

Gareth Davies
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Gareth Davies

I haven’t got a problem with reducing the voting age to 16 so long as the age of majority is similarly lowered. It is usual that those advocating reducing the voting age insist on maintaining the age of criminal ‘adulthood’ as 18. That is a disingenuous position, as the maturity needed for responsible voting implies that other civic responsibilities should also be imparted on the individual, including criminality and those such as marriage and serving in the forces that presently require parental consent.

Alwyn J Evans
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Alwyn J Evans

Those issues aren’t connected, as taxation isn’t optional. As a person’s financial co.tribution to the state is a legal obligation, then their right to exercise influence over that state should be a legal right. Your point about capacity only holds if you extend capacity to every citizen who can prove capacity and that’s not universal suffrage.

Plain citizen
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Plain citizen

Why is the voting age not reduced to age 12 ie secondary school age? These children spend lots of money (trainers, video games, clothes etc) so pay lots of tax. So give them the vote. I hope other Acts will be amended now to acknowledge this newly recognised ‘maturity’ ie age to purchase alcohol, age to send ‘obscene selfies’ etc. A host of contradictions in this.

Simon Gruffydd
Guest

Etymology of the word senedd: from Latin senatus, a council of elders. In Canada they call their version of the House of Lords ‘The Senate’ composed of political appointees. So perhaps Senedd is the appropriate name for what the Welsh Assembly has become – a remote ruling chamber guarded by machine gun toting police, anti-tank barricades, and airport like security just to enter, protecting those who have grown increasingly distant from the people they “claim” to represent. The term Cynulliad was far too inclusive I suppose. In Rhun’s own words, it’s now a “Senedd for the people” – not ‘of’… Read more »

Jonathan Gammond
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Jonathan Gammond

A real boost for representative democracy in Wales would be to introduce multi-member constituencies with preference voting as they have in Ireland rather than the current system of pocket boroughs, safe seats and a sprinkling of marginals plus the pork barrel of the regional top-up lists where totally unknown people pop-up after an election claiming to be our AMs for north, mid, south-east etc Wales. In so many places across Wales,. you can only vote against a particular candidate as otherwise your vote would be completely wasted. Roll-on some serious changes rather than just fiddling with the franchise. Make it… Read more »

Paul Young
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Paul Young

Correct me if I’m wrong on this but I believe the proportional voting reforms are to be debated along with the size and composition of the Senedd before too long.

Dave Brooker
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Dave Brooker

Would be nice to think there could be a new party for Wales which would give them something to vote for, a party free of the shortcomings and old ideas of the others

jr humphrys
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jr humphrys

I was initially against this, but I don’t think older people are any wiser. Many still cook with lard, and a whole raft of them believe what Al. B. Johnson says.

Gaynor
Guest
Gaynor

Gwmws

Glen
Guest
Glen

Now take the vote away from the over 65’s. Why should people who have had their lives have the right to dictate the future of younger generations like they did with Brexit.

Huw Davies
Guest
Huw Davies

That must be one of the more daft prejudiced remarks of the day. On the other hand it may just reflect your lack of any kind of sense.