‘Historic moment’ as Assembly name change and votes at 16 Bill becomes Act

The Senedd. Picture by the National Assembly

A Bill to change the name of the Assembly to Senedd Cymru / Welsh Parliament and give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote will become an Act today.

After sealing the Bill, to mark it receiving Royal Assent, the First Minister Mark Drakeford will present it to the National Assembly’s Chief Executive and Clerk Manon Antoniazzi.

The handing over of the Bill in the Siambr, which will take place in the Siambr at 1.15pm today, will see the Bill become an Act which will come in the force in May this year.

Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales says; “I am honoured to mark this significant chapter in the story of our Assembly with the passing of the Senedd and Elections Wales (Bill) into an Act of the Assembly.

“We will have a new name, which will reflect our status as a mature legislature, and we will see the biggest extension to the franchise since 1969 – notably giving 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in the Welsh General Election for the first time in 2021. It is a moment of great pride to watch our Assembly grow and evolve in order to continue to be at its best to serve the people of Wales.”

The Senedd and Elections Bill is the first part of the Assembly’s Reform programme and is based on the recommendations made in the independent report of the Assembly’s Expert Reform Panel.

 

‘Critical’

The passing of the Senedd Bill will also extend the vote in the Assembly elections to all foreign nationals resident in Wales.

Commenting on the passing of the Bill, Electoral Reform Society Cymru Director, Jess Blair said that it was a “historic moment for democracy in Wales”.

“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,” she said.

“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.

“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.”

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Elfed Jones
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Elfed Jones

To me it will always be Y Senedd.

Simon Gruffydd
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Simon Gruffydd

A “historic moment for democracy in Wales” … indeed. But not in good sense. This “modern” agenda extending the vote to anyone who happens to be in Wales at election time is a clear programme to water down and dilute the voice of the Welsh nation. Shame on them. So they want a “status as a mature legislature”. Status, indeed. Protected by machine-gun totting guards and airport style security while incessantly plotting to overturn a referendum result they don’t like – they certainly have status. The status of anti-democratic rogues. No doubt they will be tripping over themselves offering goods… Read more »

John Ellis
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John Ellis

In current circumstances I’m inclined to favour extension of the franchise to settled foreign nationals who’ve made their lives here, given that the Senedd and its government only legislate for and administer certain of the nation’s internal affairs.

Though I might well think differently if foreign policy and international relations became devolved matters!

Rhosddu
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Rhosddu

Extending the franchise to 16- and 17-year-olds is a positive move that will encourage that age group to engage in the politics of Wales, and can only benefit the country. Extending the vote to “all foreign nationals living in Wales” is a questionable turn of events that we may come to regret. Why, exactly, was it considered necessary or desirable for the future of this country?

Jonathan Gammond
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Jonathan Gammond

Are there any other countries that allow foreign nationals the vote without reciprocal arrangements being in place?

Axel
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Axel

Well, I’d say there is at least one: the UK (allowing Commonwealth citizens to vote in the UK, regardless of whether there are any arrangements with the country there are from).

Jonathan Gammond
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Jonathan Gammond

Had a look online and many Commonwealth countries do offer reciprocal arrangements for UK citizens in their elections. However the direction of travel since the 1980s has been to restrict such voting rights or abolish them. Generally the bigger the country the more likely they are to decide that voting rights should be exclusive to its own citizens. Even smaller Commonwealth states have clauses about loyalty to a foreign state being a reason to deny the vote.

Philip Hughes
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Philip Hughes

On the flip side should we have an upper cut off age? Should people of 70 or 80 be, rightfully in my opinion, disenfranchised

John Ellis
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John Ellis

Will you be saying that when you’re 70+, I wonder?!

Being 74, I acknowledge a vested interest!