Number of Assembly Members could increase and voting age lowered as new committee set to explore electoral reform
A cross-party committee to consider allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote in Wales and increasing the number of Assembly Members has been set up.
The National Assembly for Wales voted in favour by 35-11 of creating the new committee, which will explore the recommendations put forward by the Expert Panel on Assembly Reform.
The Assembly Commission’s ‘Creating a Parliament for Wales’ consultation received over 1,800 responses to questions about the size of the National Assembly, of which a majority thought that the institution needs more Members to carry out its role effectively.
On 10 July 2019 the Assembly agreed that an increase in the number of Assembly Members is needed and that further cross-party work should be undertaken to develop this.
The Committee on Assembly Electoral Reform will look at recommendations made by the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform on the size of the Assembly, how Assembly Members are elected, and how a new electoral system could encourage the election of a more diverse Assembly.
This next step follows the first phase of reforms that are already well under way as the Senedd and Elections Bill makes its way through the Assembly’s legislative process.
If passed, the Bill will empower 16 and 17-year-olds to vote at Welsh general elections.
Historically voter turnout in Welsh Assembly elections is comparably lower than that of a general election.
In May 2016 Wrexham saw a voter turnout of 40 per cent – which was up slightly on the 36.2 per cent way back in 2011. Up the road in Clwyd South turnout increased to 41 per cent from 36.9 per cent in 2011.
It is hoped that lowering the voting age will help “engage young people in particular in the democratic process”.
The commission also proposes changing the name of the Assembly and potentially referring to it as ‘Welsh Parliament’.
Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly said: “These reforms are about how we best represent the people of Wales. This is the next important step in creating a more effective and accessible legislature, ensuring that our democratic framework is fit for the future.
“With ever-increasing pressure and the additional responsibilities of this parliament, the case for reform is stronger than ever.
“I look forward to following the committee’s work in scrutinising these important issues of democracy and accountability.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com