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Cross-party group to look at expanding the Assembly and changing the voting system

19 Sep 2019 2 minute read
The Senedd building

A cross-party group of Assembly Members will begin looking at expanding the size of the soon-to-be Welsh parliament and changing the voting system.

The National Assembly voted in favour of creating the Committee on Assembly Electoral Reform yesterday.

The committee will look at recommendations made by the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform on:

  • The size of the Assembly. The Expert Panel recommended that the Assembly needs an extra 20 to 30 members to cope with its growing workload.
  • How Assembly Members are elected. The panel recommended a change in the voting system, to a proportional method called the Single Transferable Vote. One option would be to pair the current 40 constituencies to merge them into 20 seats, each with four AMs, giving a total of 80.
  • How a new electoral system could encourage the election of a more diverse Assembly. A gender quota would boost the number of women in the Senedd, and the option of standing as a “job share” candidate would aim to encourage people with disabilities or caring responsibilities.

Any changes will require a law to be passed in the Assembly with a two-thirds majority.

Reforms such as giving 16 and 17-year olds the vote at Welsh general elections and changing the name of the institution to Senedd / Welsh Parliament are currently being considered by the National Assembly.

‘Effective and accessible’

The Assembly Commission’s Creating a Parliament for Wales consultation received over 1,800 responses to questions about the size of the National Assembly, of which a majority thought that the institution needs more Members to carry out its role effectively.

“These reforms are about how we best represent the people of Wales,” Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly said.

“This is the next important step in creating a more effective and accessible legislature, ensuring that our democratic framework is fit for the future.

“With ever-increasing pressure and the additional responsibilities of this parliament, the case for reform is stronger than ever.

“I look forward to following the committee’s work in scrutinising these important issues of democracy and accountability.”

The size and membership of the Committee on Assembly Electoral Reform is yet to be determined and is being discussed by political groups.

AMs were given powers to make changes to the way they are elected under the 2017 Wales Act.

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Simon Gruffydd
Simon Gruffydd
4 years ago

“a new electoral system could encourage the election of a more diverse Assembly” We need a more diverse Assembly like we need a hole in the head. Equality of opportunity is the only principle needed to ensure a fair and just Assembly membership. Any attempt to rig the results through ‘gender quotas’ or whatever inevitably relies on institutionalised bigotry granting privilege to some groups and disadvantage to others. It is the recipe for injustice.

Nefoedd Yr Adar
Nefoedd Yr Adar
4 years ago

As a pro devolutionist (previously a Plaid Cllr and national candidate) I’m completely depressed by this article. Yes, it is well meaning, however are politicians and administrators living in the real world? I just want the directed (first the post) elected member to serve my interested with vigour, honesty, energy and to the best of her/his ability. I couldn’t care less if they speak Polish, can’t speak Welsh, are old or young, have one leg, have a hearing impairment or have a child in prison…………I just want an elected local person who is genuine about the 10 mile (or so)… Read more »

KC Gordon
KC Gordon
4 years ago

Votes for 16 year olds!! – does any parent of a bolshie 16 teenager who has little or no idea of how the world works want to give him/her a vote?

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
4 years ago

Increase the size of the assembly as they are taking on more responsibilities.
The fairest election system to put power in the hands of the people is using the Single Transferable vote (STV) – this will remove the proportional element from party bosses and put it in the hands of voter.

I do NOT agree with diversity quotas because whether discrimination is discrimination whether positive or negative.
quotas such as gender quotas will only set people up to failure.

Jonathan Gammond
Jonathan Gammond
4 years ago

STV would be a great improvement on the current system. The regional list AMs seem to appear from nowhere and yet claim to represent you. Multi-member constituencies work well in the Irish Republic and have a strong link to their constituency, as well as actually being chosen by the electorate rather than being parachuted in by their party chiefs.

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