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Over 100,000 Welsh voters to be denied a vote as dozens of local elections seats uncontested in Wales

07 Apr 2022 3 minute read
Polling station. Picture by the Welsh Government

Voters in large parts of Wales will be denied a vote in this May’s local elections after dozens of council seats have already been decided before a single vote is cast.

New analysis by ERS Cymru estimates that 106,920 Welsh voters will be denied a say across Wales with elections effectively cancelled across the country.

Nine out of Wales’ 22 local authorities will see local representatives returned almost a month before polling day. In the worst-affected council area, Gwynedd, 30,722 voters will be denied a choice with 28 out of 69 already decided due to lack of competition.

Across Wales 74 councillors will be elected unopposed, leaving residents without a say over who represents them and their local areas – making decisions on key services such as health, housing and education.

Jess Blair, Director ERS Cymru said: “For over 100,000 voters in Wales May’s elections have been effectively cancelled.

“Local elections are the cornerstone of our democracy – a chance for local people to have their say over how their local area is run and, importantly, over who represents them. But yet again thousands of voters are being denied a voice with results decided weeks before polling day.

“Uncontested seats are yet another symptom of our broken First Past the Post system – one which creates safe seats for some candidates and parties but no-go areas for others.

“However, we now have an opportunity to break this unhealthy cycle and give local democracy a much-needed shot in the arm. For the first time, local councils in Wales have the opportunity to switch over to the more proportional single transferable vote, which is already used in Scotland.

“This would mean politicians will have to fight for every vote as well as ending the scourge of safe seats and travesty of contests being won without a single vote being cast.”

The 9 Welsh authorities with uncontested seats. *Estimated number of electors taken from Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales projections of 2022 electorate.

In the town of Caernarfon in Gwynedd, three of the five wards are uncontested. Cai Larsen, elected unopposed to the central ward, said it was “unexpected”.

“To the best of my memory there have been no uncontested Gwynedd Council elections in Caernarfon since the authority came into being,” he said.

“Three of the five are uncontested this time as are all the Town Council seats.”


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Gareth
Gareth
5 months ago

An alternative perspective is that County Councillors being re-elected without opposition is that of confidence following the last two years of uncertainty in the existing councillors being in position to hold the executive functions of the council to account.Many councillors in Gwynedd really rallied to support their communities throughout the lockdowns and helped their communities esp the vulnerable to navigate the plethora of officialdom.

Demos
Demos
5 months ago

Why do you print such a biased press release in full without context? Some journalism would be nice.
These councillors were elected unopposed because no-one decided to oppose them. “Worst affected”, “denied a vote” – nonsense. If anyone in those wards wanted to have a vote they had ample opportunity to put their own names forward.
Does the ERS not understand how democracy works?

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
5 months ago
Reply to  Demos

Most people have full time jobs, so wouldn’t be able to to stand! Stupid comment!

Arfon Jones
Arfon Jones
5 months ago

Voters are not denied a choice, apathy is a choice. There are plenty of keyboard warriors who continually whinge but can’t be arsed to put their names forward, so sorry but an uncontested election is not a denial of the vote.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
5 months ago
Reply to  Arfon Jones

Most people have full time jobs, so wouldn’t be able to to stand! Stupid comment!

Kurt C
Kurt C
5 months ago

Very sad. The comments section even sadder. Unopposed means no option for change, no reason for those elected to feel challenged. If these councillors are good they should win on their proven merit.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
5 months ago

The Single Transferable vote system would make it easier for individual people to stand; Especially as independents. As votes can be transferable in 1-2-3rd choices etc and therefore removes the danger of dividing the vote as under the less democratic FPTP system.
The STV system also has the advantage of a ‘Reopen nominations’ option which would ensure that the candidates taking office have the support of the electorate.

Ian McDonald
Ian McDonald
5 months ago

STV may be better than FPTP but it is certainly not PR! For PR the voters should be able to vote for the party of their choice, wherever they live, not presented with a choice of limited candidates to make a priority choice out of!

Grayham Jones
5 months ago

Why is Plaid Cymru 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 not standing in them it’s time for a new wales vote Plaid Cymru 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
5 months ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

Don’t think they are standing in my ward…..just Labour and maybe RatepayersIndependents!

Dave
Dave
5 months ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

Plaid are the Party of Wales and yet Welsh Labour stands more candidates than they do, it is a very strange situation to be honest.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
5 months ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

Why are you not standing then You have plenty to say- Or are you just a keyboard warrior all mouth!!

jack
jack
5 months ago

the conservatives have stood more than plaid!

Chris Franks
Chris Franks
5 months ago

It can be challenging to contest an election. So many unpleasant comments from key board warriors.

Jason
Jason
5 months ago

The article completely misses the point. It’s no longer about Communities, its about Parties. Together with the virtual absence of a local press (what remains depend on the largess of Council Press Departments), non party people have completely lost interest.

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