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Mark Drakeford and Adam Price agree on bigger 96 member Senedd elected entirely by proportional representation

10 May 2022 4 minute read
Mark Drakeford and Adam Price reveal the cooperation agreement. Picture by Plaid Cymru.

Mark Drakeford and Adam Price have put forward a proposal for a 96 member Senedd with 16 constituencies.

They will be elected through a PR-only system – making Wales the first country in Britain to abolish the First Past the Post system at a parliamentary level.

The First Minister and Plaid Cymru party leader have made the suggestion as a way forward to reform the Senedd before the 2026 election.

The Welsh Conservatives have said that they oppose expanding the Senedd.

In a joint statement, Mark Drakeford and Adam Price said they wanted reform to be implemented in time for the next election in 2026, even if some of the changes are introduced on an interim basis.

They stated:

  • The Senedd should have 96 Members.
  • It should be elected using closed proportional lists with integrated statutory gender quotas and mandatory zipping. Seats should be allocated to parties using the D’Hondt formula.
  • The 2026 Senedd election should use the final 32 UK Parliament constituencies proposed by the Boundary Commission for Wales once it has concluded its 2023 Parliamentary Review.
  • These constituencies should be paired to create 16 Senedd constituencies. Each constituency should elect six Members.
  • A full boundary review should be instigated in this Senedd term and its recommendations should take effect from the subsequent Senedd election.

The Senedd currently has 60 members and 40 constituencies, along with five regional lists.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The case for Senedd reform has been made. We now need to get on with the hard work to create a modern Senedd, which reflects the Wales we live in today. A Parliament that truly works for Wales.

“The joint position statement we are publishing today will help support the important work of the cross-party Special Purpose Committee to move Senedd reform forwards.”

Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru, said: “These reforms will lay the foundations for a stronger Welsh democracy and a fairer, more representative Senedd that will look entirely different to the outdated political system at Westminster.

“A stronger, more diverse, more representative Senedd will have a greater capacity to perform its primary purpose of making a positive difference to the lives of the people of Wales”

‘Boost for democracy’

Rhys ab Owen MS from Plaid Cymru said that the agreement was “historic”.

“Not only does it pave the way for a stronger Senedd with a greater ability to make a difference to the lives of people across our country, it will also boost our democracy – making it fairer and more representative,” he said.

“Some of Plaid Cymru’s key manifesto commitments will now be met.  We will have a stronger Senedd with 96 members elected through a proportional electoral voting system – gender-balanced in law by the next election in 2026.

“It’s not about more politicians. It’s about super-powering our parliament – making it fit to represent our people and reflective of all the voices and aspirations of Welsh society.

‘Setting the pace’

Jess Blair, Director of ERS Cymru said that today’s announcement was “historic” as it had “representation and equality at its heart”.

“A strong Senedd is vital to tackle the issues that most affect our communities – critical decisions that impact the daily lives of people in Wales are being made here, not Westminster and these plans will ensure a Senedd that can deliver better outcomes for the people of Wales,” she said.

“Not only will these plans see a larger improved Senedd that reflects the people of Wales – it is yet another rejection of the kind of outdated winner-takes all politics that we’ve come so accustomed to in Westminster – a continued commitment to a proportional electoral system that ensures seats match votes.

“Wales has for a long time now been setting the pace for democratic innovation – today’s announcement once again shows that Wales can lead the way and deliver a parliament fit for the 21st Century.”

Evelyn James. Campaigner at WEN Wales said: “This is a historic moment as it confirms that Wales will be the first country in the UK to legislate to ensure we have gender balance in our seat of power.  This is very fitting – we were the first country to achieve gender balance in our legislature in 2003 and we should now be on course to ensure we have gender balance after the elections in 2026.

“We are delighted that our evidence to the special purpose committee, our briefings and our legal opinions have helped ensure Senedd reform includes these positive measures so that gender parity is baked in, whatever the party in power.”


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Eifion
Eifion
6 months ago

Lol, he must be very committed to have changed his name, Adam Plaid…..

Think you need to check you’re headlines before publishing.

Phil
Phil
6 months ago
Reply to  Eifion

…and what’s a constituancy?

Cynan
Cynan
6 months ago

Sorry to put this on the wrong thread. But a quick request for Nation Cymru:- Please can you stop putting up stories you will not let us discuss? I am fed up seeing posts about that fascist club founder in Swansea, or Jamie Wallis stories etc that have comments shut down. I completely understand the reasons in both cases, but it’s really irritating. In the Jamie Wallis case, I kind of (unkindly perhaps) think that his sudden admission (apropros of nothing) that he is Trans was to give him an easier ride in the press for his other deeds. The… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Cynan
Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
6 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

Reasonable point regarding allowing comments but i think its standard practice for news sites to disable comments for stories covering ongoing court cases

Glyn Jones
Glyn Jones
6 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

Clywch clywch!

David
David
6 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

If no comments allowed DON’T publish the article.

Cynan
Cynan
6 months ago
Reply to  NationCymru

Okay NC a fair point and I do understand, but on a platform where all other posts have open comments it can be a touch irritating. Also where Trans matters are concerned particularly, I know that it can all turn into an unmoderatable circus of prejudice in seconds. And it’s a fine line. I’ve tried to walk that line in my comments above but I do not doubt I’ve gotten or will get some backs up.
Appreciate the response.

Glen
Glen
6 months ago

Gender quotas is not going to help improve the calibre of members.
We have more than enough 3rd raters in the Senedd just making up the numbers already.

Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas
6 months ago
Reply to  Glen

I do agree with what you are saying but with STV you can vote for more than one party and hopefully weed them out

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
6 months ago
Reply to  Glen

Are you saying female Senedd members are ‘third raters’? It’s because of people with those appalling attitudes that gender quotas are being introduced.

Glen
Glen
6 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

So you are saying women aren’t capable of competing against men on an equal basis?
I want my political representatives to be the most able person available regardless of gender.

Last edited 6 months ago by Glen
Cynan
Cynan
6 months ago
Reply to  Glen

Take your point Glen, and agree absolutely. We should absolutely get the people best suited for the work. But the facts speak for themselves. Higher ups have for centuries recruited people who look, act and think like themselves. As a result younger people, women, non-white ethnicities, the neuro-diverse and sex / gender diverse are at an immediate disadvantage. Shortlists and quotas are a recognised method of snapping things into a more equitable footing pretty quickly. And they only need to be short term, because when there is diversity in senior positions, diversity of recruitment inevitably follows and it becomes self-perpetuating.… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Cynan
Cynan
Cynan
6 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

It would be so much more productive to respond to a respectful comment with a respectful counter comment. But no this is 2022.

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

Now that’s far too sensible proposition for some of those who frequent this site ! Stick to those values and you will prevail.

Rob
Rob
6 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

I’m with Glen on this one. Quota systems are a short term fix and not a long term solution. They feel forced on, and can play into the hands of the far right with comments like “they only got the job because what they are” etc. Furthermore many would feel insulted if they were given an advantage that was not based on merit.

Just because a politician happens a women doesn’t mean they would advocate for women’s issues. Priti Patel, Sarah Palin, Marjorie Taylor Greene etc.

Cynan
Cynan
6 months ago
Reply to  Rob

I take your point, but for me they only need to be a short term fix. Once the decision makers are diverse, the decisions become diverse. As regards giving advantages to women, I see it more as removing disadvantages to women, or more accurately removing unfair advantages to men. I honestly think we agree on more than we disagree here. Just the key difference seems to be on whether we think the current system is fair. A white male (like myself) maybe doesn’t always see it because it is not a system which works to our detriment. Pretty much every… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Cynan
Quornby
Quornby
6 months ago
Reply to  Glen

Mmm…. . Ms Ashgar and that Finch woman spring to mind.

Paul
Paul
6 months ago
Reply to  Glen

Gender quotas may not help with the overall calibre of politicians, but fully PR elections can help.

Getting rid of safe FPTP constituencies where so many second rate politicians find a home. Means parties will be encouraged to put more competent politicians at the top of their lists.

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago

Must be an improvement on the present sclerotic model where very few changes happen unless sitting members check out. It will give a far better reflection of what the current demographic wants, and some of that may be quite unpalatable to some of us but in a smarter democracy that is what we get. As for quotas I’m a bit unsure. Not that I have any opposition to the number of women members increasing but it does increase the scope for numerous sectional interests who “enjoy” oppressed minority status to make their claims for “space”.

CJPh
CJPh
6 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Only those whose main priority is power will apply – guarantees and preferential treatment leads to observers of such posts and positions to question the ability of those who receive such benefits and privileges, and those from minority backgrounds who are good enough don’t want to be perceived that way. That just leaves people who don’t care. The one thing that unites the far left and far right – there is no truth but power. Such quotas, eventually, lead to polarisation, fundamentalism and extremism.

Last edited 6 months ago by CJPh
Arwyn
Arwyn
6 months ago

Cynnydd bois bach, cynnydd!

arthur owen
6 months ago

Could you explain ‘mandatory zipping’and ‘D’Hondt formula’please.

Paul Culloty
Paul Culloty
6 months ago
Reply to  arthur owen

The D’Hondt formula is what the UK used to allocate seats for European elections, so here was the 2019 result in Wales for illustrative purposes:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wales_(European_Parliament_constituency)#2019

Brexit won the first seat, then after their vote was halved, Plaid had the most votes and took seat two. The halved Brexit votes were still higher than Labour, so they took seat three, with Labour taking the final seat as their vote was higher than Plaid’s reduced total.

Steve George
Steve George
6 months ago
Reply to  arthur owen

It’s also the system currently used in the Senedd to elect the 20 regional Senedd Members. “Zipping”, I learned today, means that if the first person a party chooses on its list of candidates is male then the next one must be female and so on.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
6 months ago

The Senedd should be expanded it is the only way for Cymru to gain a stronger voice and balance the deminished Westminster voice.

CJPh
CJPh
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

Cywir – Welsh matters adjudicated by Welsh politicians voted into place by the Welsh public. Westminster is beginning to seem less important – perhaps Plaid should adopt the Sinn Fein policy? It’d be great to see Ben Lake speak on TV, advocating for Ceredigion, conducting surgeries across his county, arranging and fronting social events, doing some community organising but refusing to speak once every 48 months and mostly sit quietly in a fancy building on the Thames.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago

This long overdue. From 60 to 96 MSs is about right seeing Northern Ireland had 90 MLAs with half the population. Not sure about quotas though? I’d prefer a meritocracy where ability shines rather than installing someone because they want a Senedd with a gender 50/50 split, although I do understand the methodology of encouraging not only more women into politics but also ones from ethic minorites etc… We must have a Senedd more representative of Welsh society of we’ll continue to alienate rather than encourage But don’t force it. With the right conditions & climate this will naturally occur.… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Y Cymro
CJPh
CJPh
6 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Astute post – 100% agree with this, on reflection. “Proportional” representation is subjective – exactly which characteristics do we prioritise and when do we stop slicing into the characteristics themselves for ever greater representation? Not enough women – of those, not enough women of colour – of them, not enough women of colour who are trans – of them, not enough women of colour who are trans and physically disabled – ad infinitum/absurdum. Eventually, you end up with all the measurable facets of the individual person. Do we, say, guarantee 20-25% Welsh speakers, or demand Welsh speaking representation per percentage… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

Diolch. The important thing is. We are moving in the right direction.

Cynan
Cynan
6 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

I agree with a lot of what you say, but as regards shortlists etc – especially women only shortlists – because women make up ~50% of our population I hope you won’t mind me cutting and pasting part of my response to another poster. This explains why I think these shortlists are an absolute neccessity to get diverse, appropriate representation. Maybe this representation is disproportionate for the incidence in the general population, but many voices need to be heard and great ideas can come from anywhere. Higher ups have for centuries recruited people who look, act and think like themselves.… Read more »

Cynan
Cynan
6 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

Ooo a respectful post gets a downvote from someone. How very 2022.

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

Some people within our community regard views not fully compliant with their own as hostility. The sort of people who want independence but only on their terms. Maybe they serve a covert purpose for those who would wish to deny us.

CJPh
CJPh
6 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

No need to get conspiratorial, but I do think that some percentage of the extant indy movement would drop it once their preferred ideologues get into power at San Steffan. Indy is a means to an ideological end, not an end in and of itself. There are plenty of posters on this site that are very ideologically entrenched but are just as staunchly pro-Indy (Padi is one – I couldn’t disagree more with most of his takes but he wants and strives for indy just as much as I do). I don’t think they’re Unionist-Leftist sleeper agents looking to undermine… Read more »

Corwynt
Corwynt
6 months ago

Mae’n swnio’n dda, ond angen sicrhau taw merched go iawn sy’n llenwi’r llefydd ar gyfer merched, a ddim y rheiny ffug.

Glyn Jones
Glyn Jones
6 months ago

Reit dda. Newyddion gwych. Petai’r blaid goch hon ond yn rhoi’r gorau i hyrwyddo gwladychu ein tiroedd a diwreiddio ein pobloedd. Dyna fyddai cynnydd go iawn.

David
David
6 months ago

Every candidate standing MUST have been resident in Wales for a period of 1 whole year before the election.

CJPh
CJPh
6 months ago
Reply to  David

Well this is an interesting one. I hear a “no” down in my heart but I’m not sure why. faint tones of “welcome in the hillside” playing in my mind. Then I remember how much I hate that song. My head says “yes”, though. However, it’s impossible to implement under current UK law, I’d imagine.

Robert Griffin
Robert Griffin
6 months ago

Mandatory zipping is a requirement for party lists to alternate between Male and female candidates. Some elections in France require candidates to stand as male/female pairs, so you vote for the pair – interesting. Overall this a massive step in the right direction for Wales, we need the same system for local government.

R W
R W
6 months ago

On the whole, it all sounds pretty sensible. A real step in the right direction. Tory opposition to the plans confirm my positive feelings towards the plans!!

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