The UK: A Laboratory for Democracy? Voting systems beyond Westminster


Written by Ben Yardley, Learning Coordinator


Democracy is simple: the candidate with the most votes wins, right?

Well, depending on where you live in UK and in which election you participate, the way you choose your representatives could be very different. In Wales, a debate is emerging over the way that Members of the Senedd (the national legislature) are elected.

A new Bill, currently at committee stage, proposes to overhaul the voting system and base Welsh elections entirely on proportional representation, replacing the ‘hybrid’ Alternative Member System which is currently used.

The change is controversial because the ‘closed list’ used in a proportional voting system, wherein voters cannot choose which representatives are picked, would mean that Welsh voters would now cast their vote only for a party, not a candidate. The Bill would also increase the number of MS’ (Members of the Senedd) to 96, a move supporters claim is necessary, but which has drawn criticism both in Wales and in Westminster.

The move to proportional representation in Wales would add yet another method to what is already a patchwork of different voting systems across the UK: