Reduce and Equalize

A couple of weeks ago, the Electoral Reform Society Wales published a research paper on the implications of the Tory plan to reduce the number of Westminster constituencies to about 500 and make their size more equal, as well as how this would affect Assembly elections.

If the paper received much publicity at the time I have to admit that I missed it, and I'd hazard a guess that others did too. So here it is, in Welsh and English:

     

Executive Summary

The paper analyses the effect that the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition's proposals to cut the number of MPs in Westminster would have in Wales, and in particular on the National Assembly.

However, with the prospect of increased devolution coupled with the over-representation of Wales in Westminster, the issues raised in the paper will remain relevant in Wales over the coming years. Electoral Reform Society Wales believes that an informed discussion of the options available in the event of such changes is vital for the future health of Welsh democracy at all governmental levels, be they at the Westminster, devolved, or local level.

We hope that this paper will be a contribution to an informed discussion of these issues.

I haven't read it yet, but I'd invite others to start a discussion about what's in it which I'll join when I have.

However I did notice that their preferred option for the Assembly is that it should be elected by STV in multimember constituencies of varying size, based on Local Authority boundaries. This bears an uncanny resemblance to what Penddu proposed in this post last November.

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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

In my quieter moments I also divided Wales into 29 equal sized constituencies which look a lot more natural than some of these - Brecon & Montgomery??? Swansea East & Vale of Neath?? Ych a fi...

I will post details tommorrow.

Penddu

Emlyn Uwch Cych said...

I agree with Penddu. Ych a fi.

Combining St Dogmaels with Rhayadr (via Aberystwyth)! 2 hours end to end.

Powys seems to be sliced up in the west with only a gerrymandered border seat in the east.

I'm glad I don't have the Boundary Commissioners headache to contend with.

Siônnyn said...

This is a beautiful dichotomy - reduce the number of MPs because of the Devolution settlement, but lo-and-behold : That automatically makes the devolution settlement unworkable, because it leads directly to a reduction in the number of AMs!

So something has to be done. And strangely enough, I think this is a HUGE opportunity for us to renegotiate the whole scheme of things, with a government that is likely to listen!

Condems don't have the tribal Neanderthal rump of atavistic valleys MPs to appease. In terms of their stated aim of decentralising whatever they can, it is concordant. They are bent on constitutional reform anyway - so as long as we make our case well, I think they will be sympathetic.

As to the best solution for how AMs should be elected, surely it is a bit premature to tie it either to WM constituencies, or to LA districts, as both are likely to change in the short term.

I have read, but not fully digested this first rate piece of work, but I think it will be an important plank in the next stage of our march towards Cymru Rydd!

Siônnyn said...

Chaps - the important question isn't about Westminster - its about the Welsh Parliament ( as I hope it will be by then).

The nonsensical Westminster reorganisation will just make Westminster more and more irrelevant, as long as we get a well structured Welsh Government.

Cibwr said...

Where do we begin, it just shows you how difficult it will be to create coherent seats with such a rigid formula. At one point the Boundary Commission did produce a provisional Montgomery and Builth proposal and a Brecon and Abergaveny proposal. in some ways they made a bit more sense. But what every you do there is a knock on affect on neighbouring seats. I guess the restrictions on not splitting communities will go out of the window.

Penderyn said...

Not necessarily. I think the ERS have done a big service in starting the debate, but if you were to look again at the seats with an explicit aim of not splitting up communities (and accepting that this might lead to a slightly greater variation in seat populations), you could get to 29/30 without the unnatural look and feel of parts of the ERS model.

There is clearly a debate to be had about what to do with the Assembly boundaries. Decoupling isn't difficult and has been achieved in Scotland. If we are to have STV the boundaries need to be relatively fixed (you can over time alter the number of seats to reflect population changes), so small local authorities wouldn't be a sustainable basis. Using the larger authorities and merging 2 or 3 smaller ones into constituencies with between 4 and 7 members each would give a solid basis to move forward in my view.

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