Senedd backs bilingual name change and votes for 16 years old
The Senedd has backed a name change from Welsh Assembly and votes for 16-year-olds in a historic run of votes tonight.
There was disappointment among some however that the Assembly backed the bilingual name, Senedd / Welsh Parliament rather than only ‘Senedd’.
16 AMs voted for the monolingual name, with 38 backing the bilingual name.
They also backed votes at 16 in Senedd and council elections by 45 to 11.
Plaid Cymru’s Bethan Jenkins AM said extending the vote to 16-year-olds would “cement in our young people the habit of engaging in our democracy”.
“Our young people are fully able to take part in the democratic process, and it is right that they should be able to do so, as the recent climate protests have shown.
“We, therefore, celebrate tonight’s vote and look forward to the day when our 16 and 17-year-olds take part in Senedd elections.”
Electoral Reform Society Cymru welcomed the move, saying that it was “great to see the Welsh Assembly yet again backing moves to extend the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds. Significant debate today and some great discussion of how it’s implemented.”
The Welsh Language Society, which had campaigned for a Welsh-only name, expressed disappointment with the decision to bring in the name Welsh Parliament.
“It’s clear from the comments in the debate today that there is a lot of support across the parties for a Welsh-only name, ‘Senedd’,” Osian Rhys from Cymdeithas yr Iaith said.
“Politicians are only halfway through the law-making process, so there will be another chance to push an amendment to ensure one name for the Senedd in a few weeks. We will continue the campaign with that aim in mind.
“We strongly believe the Welsh language is something that unites everyone in Wales, like with the words of the national anthem.
“It was disappointing that some members of the Senedd spoke in patronising terms about people who don’t speak Welsh. We believe ‘Senedd’ is a name that can unite us all, and it’s clear that the people of Wales strongly support that too.”
Paid Cymru leader Adam Price also expressed disappointment at the result.
“Tonight, Plaid Cymru was proud to suggest the name Senedd for the democratically-elected representative body of Wales,” he said.
“Adopting that name would be a strong sign that the Welsh language, like the Senedd itself, belongs to everyone in Wales. We were pleased to receive support for that name from across party lines.
“It is disappointing that the government opposed that name – which the First Minister has stated to be his own preference – and whipped ministers to vote against it. It’s also disappointing that the First Minister wasn’t in his place in the Siambr to vote on this matter.
“Nevertheless, we in Plaid Cymru will take all possible steps to ensure a Welsh name for our legislature, and we call on other members in the Senedd to come with us.”
Former First Minister Carwyn Jones however said that a bilingual name would help with public understanding of the institution’s role.
He said it was “true to say Senedd is becoming more apparent among the public”. But it was not the case yet that “everyone understands that Senedd means parliament”.
Conservative AM David Melding said that a bilingual name would celebrate “the magnificent world we live in, in the English speaking world and Welsh-speaking world – that combination makes Wales an exceptional place”.