A missed opportunity to deliver the Senedd Wales deserves

10th May 2021
“Despite repeated warnings, political parties failed to take action to ensure a diverse and representative Senedd was elected.”
That’s the message from Chwarae Teg’s Chief Executive Cerys Furlong.

Following the election on the 6th May we have seen the overall proportion of women in the Senedd fall to 43% from 48%, demonstrating how precarious gender balance in the Senedd is. And while the election of the first woman of colour to the Senedd is incredibly welcome progress, it has taken far too long to happen.

Diversity in representation matters. Our democratic institutions should reflect the communities they serve, and when diverse voices are in the room different issues are discussed. Nowhere has this been clearer than in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, where policy decisions often exacerbated the already disproportionate impact the crisis was having on women, people of colour and those on low incomes, as a result of their needs and experiences being overlooked.

During the last Senedd term there were a number of opportunities to reform the electoral system in Wales to deliver greater diversity, but these were not taken. As a result we have a Senedd that is dominated by white men.

Sadly this drop in the number of women and lack of diversity is entirely expected. Political parties were warned repeatedly prior to the election that more needed to be done to ensure diverse candidates were selected in winnable seats.

“We know what the barriers to greater diversity in politics are; it’s high time action was taken to address them. We expect all political parties to prioritise this issue in the new Senedd term and move forward with electoral reform so that the Senedd has the capacity and diversity necessary to serve the people of Wales.

“This means an increase in the size of the Senedd and the introduction of quotas, greater investment in initiatives that enable people to run for election and changes to enable job-sharing. We also need all political parties to take positive action to ensure diverse groups who are currently under-represented in politics, are selected and elected in the future.

“For too long we’ve heard a lot of warm words about the need to deliver greater diversity in our politics, but not only have we not made progress this election, the number of women has actually fallen. Wales deserves a Senedd that reflects our diverse communities; our newly elected Senedd has a responsibility to make this a reality.

Cerys Furlong
Chief Executive, Chwarae Teg