Devolution ‘at risk’ if Labour do not back reform before 2021 election

The Senedd in Cardiff. Picture by Ifan Morgan Jones.

Devolution could be at risk if the Government does not crack on with introducing a fairer voting system and an increase in the number of AMs in time for the 2021 elections, it will be argued today.

Challenging Labour to back reform plans, Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price warned that if not done now the Senedd would risk its ability to deliver for the people of Wales which, under the context of Brexit, could threaten Welsh democracy.

Speaking ahead of today’s debate on Assembly Reform, he said that the Senedd was “being held back” from fully realising “its potential as a parliament for the people of Wales” because Labour in Wales were refusing to back its reform.

Plaid Cymru’s motion proposes that the National Assembly for Wales:

  1. Calls for immediate action in order to increase the number of Assembly Members in time for the start of the Sixth Assembly.
  2. The introduction of a fully proportional single transferable vote system for electing Members in time for the next Assembly elections in 2021.

Both changes were recommended by an expert panel on Assembly Electoral Reform, chaired by Professor Laura McAllister, in 2017.

However, it was revealed last month that Labour wished not to press ahead with the reform until 2026.

‘Immediate’

Plaid Cymru said that reform by 2021 is still possible with the right “political will”.

“Despite growing in power and responsibility, our Senedd is being held back from fully realising its potential as a parliament for the people of Wales because of Labour in Wales’s refusal to support its reform by 2021,” Adam Price said.

“Our Senedd is too small and at breaking point. The people of Wales expect and deserve a parliament fit for purpose – one that is big enough to be able to hold government to account.

“That is why we must increase the number of AMs and implement an STV system by 2021 to ensure we have a strong Senedd that is able to fully operate as an effective parliament that can work for the people of Wales.

“We cannot kick something as important as this to our democracy into the long grass simply because Labour don’t want to do it. Mark Drakeford was elected as Labour’s leader in Wales on a platform that advocated more AMs – thereby giving him a mandate to support immediate reform.

“There’s no time to waste and in the context of Brexit, Welsh democracy and devolution are at risk. Westminster’s system may be broken but in Wales we have the ability to transform our politics, give power to the people and create a parliament that represents all of the voices of our country and works for its citizens. If the political will is there, it is possible. Plaid Cymru is up for the task. The question is: is Labour?”

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