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New proposals for electing a larger, more effective and accountable Assembly have been set out by Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre and Electoral Reform Society Cymru.
In the first analysis of how a larger Assembly should be elected as it takes on increased powers, the report – Reshaping the Senedd – outlines seven principles, such as simplicity and proportionality that should inform how a larger Assembly could be elected.
The report follows the cross-party Silk Commission’s recommendation for a larger Assembly, which formed the basis of the cross-party St David’s Day Agreement in March 2015.
The Assembly is set to be given the power to change its size and voting system, subject to the passing of the Wales Bill, but only with two-thirds of AMs voting in favour, meaning cross-party agreement is needed.
The Acting Director of Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre, Professor Roger Scully said:
“Our report provides seven principles against which to assess the main possible voting systems. We want all parties to sign up to these principles as a basis for rational debate.
The report finds several systems, such as Westminster’s 'First Past the Post' system, unsuitable. Adapting the current system is more palatable, whilst the systems that best balance the principles are either an 'open list' or the Single Transferable Vote in 29, three-member constituencies.
There is no perfect system that fully satisfies every principle, so this is about finding the right balance.
We know that parties will approach this from different standpoints, so this report can be used as a serious basis and common ground for discussions that can help build the necessary agreement to take Welsh democracy forward.”
Co-Author and ERS Cymru Campaigns and Research Officer, Dr. Owain ap Gareth, said:
“New tax powers, and the prospect of additional powers from Europe make the case for a larger, fairly-elected Assembly, stronger than ever.
Given that many now recognise the need for a more effective and accountable Assembly, ‘Reshaping the Senedd’ moves from the ‘why’ to the ‘how’. It looks at practical ways to achieve a larger, more democratic Assembly that can deal with the new challenges and opportunities that will arise through the Wales Bill and following Brexit.
Consensus is not just desirable but essential for change to happen. That is how it should be: changes to the rules of the game require a different kind of debate that goes beyond partisan politics.
This report gives people the key principles and practical tools to have a clear-headed and positive debate about how we make a bolstered Assembly work better for voters and Welsh politics as a whole.”