Local Government Reform

In the first article of the ‘Merger, He Wrote’ series, Steve Brooks director of the Electoral Reform Society Cymru reflects on the Welsh Government’s new white paper on local democracy.

So many of the issues he identifies could be improved by the introduction of STV.

There are further ideas on dragging Welsh local authorities into the 21st century, with proposals on diversity …

Of course diversity should be about more than just gender but also trying to make the composition of a council reflect the diversity of opinions in the area governed.

Local politics would become a lot more competitive with Proportional Representation.

PR in multi-member constituencies will also assist with diversity (of opinion as well as gender or any other dimension). A PR system which breaks the power of parties (such as STV but not list systems) also encourages a wide diversity of candidates as you don’t need to be “on the list” and under STV mavericks cannot split votes.

… the leader/cabinet model is open to concentrating power in the hands of a few, locking out backbench councillors and the public from decision making.

This is a particular problem with “one party states”. STV will mean that in many councils coalitions will be the norm which means a degree of power-sharing which is inevitably more open.

Where you have multi-party councils (whose balance may slowly evolve over time) working with multi-party governments (whose balance may also slowly evolve with time) you are less likely to have councils and government at permanent logger-heads.

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