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Concern as UK Government decides to impose ‘broken’ voting system for Wales’ police elections

16 Mar 2021 3 minutes Read
Counting votes at the 2016 elections. Picture by Llywelyn2000.

Electoral reform campaigners have slammed proposals by the UK Government to do away with the supplementary vote system in Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

Local and national elections in Wales are devolved to the Welsh Parliament, but the UK Government retains control over Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and Westminster General Elections.

The proposals set out by Home Secretary Priti Patel would remove the supplementary vote system currently used at PCC elections and impose First Past the Post.

It would also include scrapping proportional representation in devolved elections in England, including the London Assembly.

The Electoral Reform Society said Westminster was trying “impose” its “broken first past the post voting system” on the rest of the UK.

Priti Patel today said the Home Office, Cabinet Office and Ministry of Housing would “change the voting system for all Combined Authority mayors, the mayor of London and police and crime commissioners to First Past the Post”.

Patel said that First Past the Post – which awards seats in General Elections to whoever has the highest vote count and does not take into account preferences – “provides for strong and clear local accountability”.

The changes will not influence the elections due on 6 May.

‘Accountability’

Willie Sullivan, Senior Director (Campaigns), Electoral Reform Society said the moves would simply hand unpopular candidates more power.

“Imposing Westminster’s broken first past the post voting system on the Mayor of London and mayoral and PCC elections across the UK is a step backwards that would see multi-million-pound budgets handed to people the majority of voters don’t want – damaging accountability and undermining the legitimacy of those elected,” he said.

“Offering voters a second preference using the Supplementary Vote acts as a safeguard against future mayors sneaking into city and town halls on low levels of support by ensuring the winning candidate has a broad backing of voters – vital for officials with wide-ranging powers over policing and crime in our local communities.

“With all the challenges facing the country right now, making it easier for unpopular candidates to win mayoral elections should not even be in the government’s to-do list.

“We need to be finding ways of increasing accountability for our politicians, improving our democracy and making it fit for the modern age instead of turning back the clock and adopting a discredited, outdated and broken voting system.”

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