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Electoral Systems and One-Party Dominance in Wales

1 June 2018

To the extent that Brexit allows room for any other political issues to be debated, there has been some discussion in Wales over the last few months over electoral systems. This follows publication of the McAllister Panel report in December last year – which examined the size of the National Assembly, and how it is elected. This report, in turn, followed previous discussion on that issue.

Electing a Larger National Assembly

and the transfer of legal powers over National Assembly elections to the Assembly itself in the 2017 Wales Act.


The McAllister Expert Panel made several main recommendations, and also gave several options for ways forward. Among the main recommendations of the panel were:

  • An increase in the size of the National Assembly from the current 60 to between 80 and 90 AMs
  • Use of the Single Transferable Vote system to elect the Assembly; or, if this were not politically acceptable to enough of the parties, a form of flexible list system
  • The use of gender quotas to ensure balance in elected representation
  • The consideration of forms of job-sharing for AMs.
  • Reduction of the minimum age for voting at Assembly elections to 16


The debate on whether or not to adopt the McAllister proposals is ongoing. But this is not a debate without a context or a history. In work for a forthcoming book I am writing – also called Elections in Wales – I have been researching much of this history. As I have discussed at numerous points in the past here, and elsewhere, the history of electoral politics in Wales is overwhelmingly one of one-party dominance: by the Liberals up to 1914, and the Labour party from the 1920s onwards.

In the next few blog posts, I’ll be drawing from some of my work in the book to examine what role electoral systems have played in sustaining this dominance – and what the consequences of change might be. I hope that you’ll all find this interesting reading – and that it might whet your appetite for the book, when that is finished!


  1. Glasnost UK

    Unlikely to ever get a rational/balanced/honest view point from Roger Anwan – Scully. This is the man who PROVED that the imposed Welsh language is popular and desirable by asking a ‘question’ “Is the Welsh Language a Nuisance” and predictably got the answers he wanted. No language is a nuisance but asking a different question that is more relevant and one that would reflect more accurate reflection of Welsh language standing in terms of its relevance in the XXI c, had to be avoided at all cost.

    Also, there is no secret that Roger is deep into the Y Fro Gymraeg tribal culture and their language. Also, a darling of Welsh speaking nationalists/The Welsh ‘media’/Welsh Government’s Welsh speaking contingent and so on.

    This is not intended to be a personal attack on Roger but would like to know from Roger how on earth can you sell yourself as an independent/objective ‘academic’?

    Back to your lead question “One Party Dominance” – With the media in Wales being totally/absolutely in the hands of the Welsh-speaking Crachach there has never been any objective or rational scrutiny of how a ‘Labour’ Government happens to be delivering the toxic nationalist agenda far more akin to Plaid Cymru’s stance than the traditional Labour’s values that people of Wales should get but not in Wales.

    A very simple answer to your ‘hypotheses’ – Welsh Labour’s supporters are subject to unprecedented lies and deceit, but cracks are slowly appearing and there is a glimmer of hope that we may start seeing some meaningful changes and soon.

    In conclusion not much to say on Laura McAllister’s stance either and another nationalist with an agenda (Unsuccessful Plaid Cymru AM candidate) using her ‘academic credentials’ to appear impartial – In short, just a stich up for the downtrodden majority not having a voice in the Welsh ‘media’.

  2. J Jones

    Would any change in the number of AMs, or the way in which they are elected, change “one party domination”?

    All the evidence is that, whatever the outcome of an election for the Welsh Assembly, the largest party (Labour in every case so far) will make some concession to another party on the Liberal left of political thinking and the same people with the same ideas will continue in power.
    Such is the “Thatcher legacy” and the Redwood mythology that any association with the Conservative party is a non starter but the EU referendum showed that many of Labour’s core vote were quite open to the British Nationalist isolationist hard right agenda that exists in Tory ideology.

  3. Christian Schmidt

    Well I’m looking forward to the book.

    Re freedom of speech, note there is no right to use someone else’s platform to publish one’s own views.

    Re would any change in the way AMs are elected change one party domination, obviously not any change, there are changes that would make it even stronger (e.g. ‘first-past-the-post’) – but any of the systems used for sub-national level / autonomous regions in Spain, Italy, Germany or France would have…

  4. J Jones

    “Re freedom of speech, note there is no right to use someone else’s platform to publish one’s own views.”

    Every comment here is someone else’s view Christian….whether you like them or not. If Roger wants no one else’s view, he doesn’t need to offer a comments forum. He could of course just remove comments that he doesn’t like but he is an academic; would such conduct be consistent with his position?

  5. Glasnost UK

    J. Jones – Just noticed, Roger sanitized as in erased my last comment in response to Christian – No idea why but speculating it appears he didn’t like me using German or my mention of the all womens list (Labour) that would parashot in someone close to Roger as a contender for the Welsh Assembly?

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