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Saturday, March 26, 2011

The anonymous candidates

This morning's Western Mail reports on the rather bizarre all-party agreement to remove the names of individual candidates from the ballot papers for the Welsh Assembly Regional top-up list. What is most disconcerting about this is that despite everybody signing up to this proposal I can not find any of the main Welsh parties who agree with it.

As Martin Shipton says, although voters will put crosses against the names of candidates contesting the 40 “first-past-the-post” constituencies as normal, regional list candidates on the second ballot paper will not be identified. Instead, voters will simply be asked to opt for the party of their choice.

Personally, I think people should be able to see on their ballot paper who they are voting for. People can then make a judgement as to whether they want a particular individual to represent them, and not having names on the ballot paper makes that more difficult.

It also puts more power in the hands of the party machines and will make it easier for people to argue that regional list AMs are of a lower status than constituency AMs because they haven’t been elected in their own right and are purely there as representatives of their party.

A Wales Office spokesperson argues that everything will be okay because the names of candidates will be displayed in polling stations. I have yet to see anybody ever read these notices. She does not say how postal voters will be kept informed.

Meanwhile, I am contemplating using the words of Plaid Cymru Assembly Member, Dai Lloyd as an endorsement on my election literature. He told the paper that "Peter Black is well known in the region and there are people who would like to vote for him because of the profile he has created."

Thanks Dai, and back at you!
Forgive an intrusion from an country, but I don't know what discussion there could now be on this. The relevant law was changed with the passing of "The National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) (Amendment) Order 2010". That Order was signed on 2 December 2010 and came into force on 3 December 2010.

The form of the regional ballot paper specified in that Order does not allow the inclusion of the names of the candidates in the parties' lists.
I am aware of this. That does not stop me discussing its impact and campaigning to change it for the future.
I know who is standing in Mid and West Wales on the regional list thanks to having access to Wikipedia and UK-Elect. Are you telling me that unless people know where to know, they have no idea who could become a regional Assembly member unless told by the parties? That seems bonkers!
The real scandal is the wasted Labour vote under the regional list system. In South Wales Central ,for example, 70,799 voters in 2007 decided that they wanted to be represented by Labour regional AMs. Under the crazy system we have for electing regional AMs those votes counted for nothing. Instead the 4 regional AMs came from Plaid and the Tories who between them had less votes than Labour. In South Wales West the Labour vote was 58,347 and in South Wales East 67,998. Again Labour failed to win a regional seat. Yet if ,for example,Plaid managed to win the Rhondda and perhaps Cardiff West Labour would not be disadvantaged in terms of numbers because they would now be given two of the regional seats.For the past 3 assembly elections the real contest for who should sit as regional AMs has taken place within the mainstream political parties where the key is to gain the top spot. It was an unsustainable system before full lawmaking powers. Now it is frankly an insult to democracy that 20 politicians who will be able to directly influence the lives of their fellow citizens through law making are not directly accountable to those same citizens.
It does work as a top-up system of course Jeff, but otherwise I agree with you observations. You cannot divorce the list vote from the constituency one as they are interlinked. Full blown STV with multi-member constituencies is the only proportional and rational way to elect the Welsh Assembly.

Meanwhile, now that you have realised that a vote for Labour on the list is wasted you can consider voting tactically for teh Welsh Lib Dems so as to get me back in and keep another Tory AM out.
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