Electoral Reform in Wales

As you may have noticed, the blog has been rather quiet over the weeks since the general election. Well, even us psephologists need to re-charge our batteries now and then – and perhaps particularly after an unexpected general election…

Anyway, the next few weeks will likely continue to be fairly quiet. I’ll be having some holidays, and also working on some larger writing projects. But as the political class come back from their summer holidays and the new political year starts again, I’ll be running my annual series of essays on the Electoral State of the Parties. We’ll also be due our next Welsh Political Barometer poll in September.

September will also mark the twentieth anniversary of the 1997 devolution referendum. Expect me, and my Wales Governance Centre colleague at Cardiff University, to have plenty to say about that; I’ll certainly be making some comments about the evolution of public attitudes to devolution since Wales very narrowly said Yes.

In the meantime… some of you may be aware that there are some interesting possibilities regarding electoral reform opening up in Wales. The recent Wales Act devolves powers over local and devolved elections in Wales to the National Assembly. There have been at least two major responses to this.

The first is that the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly, Elin Jones, has set up an Expert Panel to examine issues around the size and electoral arrangements for the Assembly. The panel is chaired by my ridiculously talented colleague, Prof Laura McAllister, and truly warrants the term ‘Expert’: some of the most distinguished scholars in the world on matters of political representation are serving on it. To find out more about the work of the panel, which is expected to report in the autumn, please see here.

Second, the Welsh Government minister responsible for local government, Mark Drakeford, has published a consultation paper on various aspects of potential reform to local government elections. The consultation period runs until 10 October. Rest assured that I will be contributing some thoughts on various aspects of this agenda! But I encourage others with views, or relevant expertise, to contribute.

Comments

  • Harry Hayfield

    I’ve already contributed to the local election consultation, suggesting that electronic counting be brought in for multi member wards (so for councils like Merthyr the whole council would count like that) and for community councils as well.

    On the issue of electoral reform for councils, I have said that as well as a 2/3rds majority of the council members there should be a 2/3rds majority of the electorate in the form of a referendum as well (as a guarantee that the changes are welcomed by the electorate and not forced on them by a council)

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