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Tory MS warns closed list system will ‘weaken democracy in Wales’

27 Sep 2023 3 minute read
Inside The Senedd, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff by .Martin. is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Emily Price

A Welsh Conservative Senedd Member has called on the First Minister to outline how the Senedd Reform Bill will make MSs more accountable to the public.

Plans to increase the size of the Senedd by a third and abolish first-past-the-post voting and single-member constituencies for elections were announced by the Welsh Government earlier this month.

If the Bill is implemented there will be 96 Senedd members compared with the current 60, with the 40 constituencies electing a single representative by first-past-the-post and 20 additional members chosen proportionally from five regions, replaced.

Instead, there will be 16 enlarged constituencies across Wales, with six members elected in each area using the D’Hondt formula, which is currently used to elect the 20 additional members.

Reflecting on the proposed closed list system, Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, James Evans MS says that voters should be able to vote for both the party and the candidate of their choice independently of each other.

Speaking in the Senedd, the Mid Wales MS said: “The closed list system removes the option for people to pick their preferred candidate and will make Senedd Members party political mouthpieces and more concerned about serving their party pay masters than the people who elect us here to serve them.

“I grow increasingly concerned that this proposed system could undermine our elections in Wales and weaken democracy. Respectively, some voters look to individual candidates to represent them not parties. We should do well to remember that devolution is supposed to strengthen our local communities, not overlook them by taking away choice.”

Candidates 

Instead of five-year terms, under the new system MSs will be elected for four-year terms and all candidates will have to live in Wales.

The maximum number of ministers appointed by the party forming the Government will be increased from 12 to 17, and there will be two deputy presiding officers instead of the current one.

Plans to require parties to select gender-balanced lists of candidates for the new enlarged constituencies will be contained in a separate Bill.

If the changes are supported by the Senedd they will be adopted for the next set of elections in 2026.

Speaking after Plenary, Mr Evans added: “Here in Wales, we can have a truly representative system that reflects the will of the people and puts us ahead of the electoral system in England. If we are to get the bread-and-butter issues under control, we need to make sure that our institutions are fit for purpose and undergo a fair and proportionate electoral process.

“The people of Wales want to be able to freely choose who they wish to represent them and an open list system, where voters can cast a vote for both their choice of political party and preferred candidate is the strongest possible solution.

“Once again, the Welsh government have got their priorities wrong. Focussing on constitutional reform when public services are in dire need of care and attention. Even then, they can’t even seem to deliver on a constitutional model that directly improves electoral process here in Wales.”

Mr Evans has said he will continue to call for an open list system and urged the Welsh Government to look at other countries such as Denmark, who permit voters to cast a vote for their preferred party and preferred candidate.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
6 months ago

Whoever says it, it is a fact and MD should resign for even voicing it ! Shameful…no Covid inquiry closed list…a pattern of behaviour that does not bod well for trust in WG…

max wallis
max wallis
6 months ago

James Evans is right – the closed list was a bad choice by Labour and Plaid leaders. That now none of their MSs will speak out of line exemplifies how bad the party-control is becoming.

CapM
CapM
6 months ago
Reply to  max wallis

It’s down to Labour rather than Labour and Plaid.
Plaid wanted STV I gather.
The new system has Plaid support because otherwise there would have been no progress towards a more democratic system.

Silenced!
Silenced!
6 months ago
Reply to  max wallis

So who do you recommend? Lord Artie Davies, gentleman of the Vale? The puce, porcine, ever pointing sausage-fingered Poundshop polemicist provoking pique in the plebiscite with his pretence and posturing?

The man doesn’t have an idea in his head beyond demonising anyone and anything that Roll-back Rishi tells him he doesn’t agree with. He’s a pointless sock-puppet creating division because he can’t come up with any policies.

I know there are intelligent Conservatives in Wales. Surely they must be embarrassed to have THAT representing them.

Last edited 6 months ago by Silenced!
Mr Williams
Mr Williams
6 months ago

Closed list is terrible for democracy. Voters should know who they are voting for. Also why such large constituencies? How on earth would that being democracy closer to the people?

It should be scrapped and replaced with either STV or perhaps single member constituencies elected by SV.

Alwyn Evans
Alwyn Evans
6 months ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

See my comment on John Brooks

Silenced!
Silenced!
6 months ago

Tory MS warns.
Stopped reading after that. Just some ideological drivel no doubt

Silenced!
Silenced!
6 months ago
Reply to  Silenced!

Downvote? Guess there’s a tory loose in the comments

Silenced!
Silenced!
6 months ago

Ultimately no system of voting REALLY serves democracy. People say they vote for individuals, but really they vote for party ideology and whether they’d want to “go for a pint” with the leader of that party. Democracy itself is not the shining bauble it claims to be. I’m not even convinced it is still the least worst from of governance any more. Since people are easily swayed ill informed idiots when it comes to choosing who governs (see previous comment about “going for a pint”). And even if they ARE well informed, the purpose of democracy is to decide who… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Silenced!
Alwyn Evans
Alwyn Evans
6 months ago
Reply to  Silenced!

That’s not democracy. that’s meritocracy. And who, pray are the ‘experts’? The Welsh Senedd, unlike Wastemonster, is notable for its shortage of ‘aristo public school educated nepo-kids. However, the unfortunate effect of Tory- established 22 county councils in Wales in 1996 was to pay councillrs, which mant that many present members of Senedd have never done ANY job outside politics. They have degrees in it, gained experience as county councillors or worked for lobbying firms, but have never, ever, done a day’s real work

saveenergy
saveenergy
6 months ago

A closed list will lead to an extended pals parliament with their noses in the trough, taking more control & still ignoring the public’s needs & wishes.

It’s not the road to democracy but the slippery slope to totalitarianism.

Geoffrey Harris
Geoffrey Harris
6 months ago

No body said that democracy is perfect it’s just the best we have. The first past the post system has served the Tories well, they have ruled the UK for generations with a minority of the votes, same for Labour, so, the current Welsh Government should be applauded for changing the system that has seen them rule in Wales since the end of the 19th century. As to cost, if the Tories gave Cymru it’s fair share of the HS2 and the crown estates we would be substantially better of, and with HS2 being abandoned by overspending they are in… Read more »

Alwyn Evans
Alwyn Evans
6 months ago

This is highly ironic bearing in mind that both Andrew RTDavies, the Tory leader in Wales and the vocal Natasha Asghar, the major critic of 20mph default limit, have NEVER been elected by direct personal vote, but have always slipped in by default as Regional MSs

Richard
Richard
6 months ago

A “closed list “ is 100 per cent what it says in the tin ! 🎯

CLOSED

Richard
Richard
6 months ago

A Closed List is 100 per cent the right title

CLOSED 🎯

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago

Voting system to one side for a moment. Seeing the Welsh Conservatives opposed devolution in 1997, they have a bloody nerve to talk about a closed system weakening Welsh democracy when they didn’t want Wales to have a democratic voice in the first place opting for Whitehall direct rule that gave us the Act of Union Wales 1535, Welsh Not, Tryweryn, Blue Book, Aberfan, Thatcherism, Sea Empress disaster, …. Also, they should be grateful seeing that in 1999 when the Conservatives in Wales didn’t have a single MP in Westminster devolution gave them a platform they didn’t deserve. See, voting… Read more »

saveenergy
saveenergy
6 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

“opting for Whitehall direct rule that gave us the Act of Union Wales 1535, Welsh Not, Tryweryn, Blue Book, Aberfan, Thatcherism, “ Yes But, the 1996 Sea Empress disaster was nothing to do with Whitehall…. The cause of the initial grounding was due to the harbor pilots error, (running at 10 knots & being offset of the leading lights). The weather was fine and clear as the vessel was entering the Haven via the West Channel with with a west-northwesterly force 4/5 wind on the port bow, plus the ebb tide was running to the east, both were pushing Sea… Read more »

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