Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru agree on bigger 96 member Senedd with statutory gender quotas
First Minister Mark Drakeford and Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price have set out proposals to reform the Senedd which includes an increase in members and statutory gender quotas.
Welsh Labour ministers and Plaid Cymru have agreed to increase the number of Senedd Members by 36 to 96 elected through a proportional representation process.
They want Senedd reforms to be implemented in time for the next election in 2026, even if some of the changes are introduced on an interim basis.
Price and Drakeford have set out a joint position statement in a letter to Huw Irranca-Davies, the chair of the cross-party Special Purpose Committee on Senedd Reform.
At present, the Senedd is said to be “seriously under-resourced and underpowered” additional members would play a critical role in delivering better scrutiny and more informed decision making.
The committee must publish its report by 31 May, it will then be debated and voted on by the Senedd.
The joint position statement is the result of ongoing discussions between the First Minister and the Leader of Plaid Cymru, as part of the Co-operation Agreement.
- The Senedd should have 96 Members.
- It should be elected using closed proportional lists with integrated statutory gender quotas and mandatory zipping.
- Seats should be allocated to parties using the D’Hondt formula.
- The 2026 Senedd election should use the final 32 UK Parliament constituencies proposed by the Boundary Commission for Wales once it has concluded its 2023 Parliamentary Review.
- These constituencies should be paired to create 16 Senedd constituencies. Each constituency should elect six Members.
- A full boundary review should be instigated in this Senedd term and its recommendations should take effect from the subsequent Senedd election.
First Mark Drakeford said: “The case for Senedd reform has been made. We now need to get on with the hard work to create a modern Senedd, which reflects the Wales we live in today. A Parliament that truly works for Wales.
“The joint position statement we are publishing today will help support the important work of the cross-party Special Purpose Committee to move Senedd reform forwards.”
Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru, said: “These reforms will lay the foundations for a stronger Welsh democracy and a fairer, more representative Senedd that will look entirely different to the outdated political system at Westminster.
“A stronger, more diverse, more representative Senedd will have a greater capacity to perform its primary purpose of making a positive difference to the lives of the people of Wales”
The Electoral Reform Society Cymru (ERS Cymru) has welcomed today announcement, Jess Blair, Director of ERS Cymru said:
“Today’s historic announcement will deliver both the larger Senedd our politics needs and a chamber that has representation and equality at its heart.
“A strong Senedd is vital to tackle the issues that most affect our communities – critical decisions that impact the daily lives of people in Wales are being made here, not Westminster and these plans will ensure a Senedd that can deliver better outcomes for the people of Wales.
“Not only will these plans see a larger improved Senedd that reflects the people of Wales – it is yet another rejection of the kind of outdated winner-takes all politics that we’ve come so accustomed to in Westminster – a continued commitment to a proportional electoral system that ensures seats match votes.
“Wales has for a long time now been setting the pace for democratic innovation – today’s announcement once again shows that Wales can lead the way and deliver a parliament fit for the 21st Century.”
Evelyn James. Campaigner at Women’s Equality Network Wales Wales said:
“This is a historic moment as it confirms that Wales will be the first country in the UK to legislate to ensure we have gender balance in our seat of power. This is very fitting – we were the first country to achieve gender balance in our legislature in 2003 and we should now be on course to ensure we have gender balance after the elections in 2026.
“We are delighted that our evidence to the special purpose committee, our briefings and our legal opinions have helped ensure Senedd reform includes these positive measures so that gender parity is baked in, whatever the party in power.”
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