Wales politics

Democracy deserts at Welsh local polls, say campaigners

Jess Blair
Image caption Jess Blair says the figures demonstrate the current system is not working

More than 127,000 people in Wales will be denied a vote in May's local elections, according to analysis by the Electoral Reform Society.

It called parts of Wales "democracy deserts" - where 92 candidates have already been elected unopposed because no-one is standing against them.

One ward, Yscir in Powys, has attracted no candidates at all.

Jess Blair, from ERS, blamed a "broken" First Past the Post voting system and "wider issues of political engagement".

Half of Wales 22 local authorities had candidates standing with no-one opposing them when nominations closed on Tuesday for the elections taking place on 4 May.

Gwynedd had the most uncontested seats, with 21, followed by Powys, which has 16 plus the ward with no candidates, and Flintshire, which had 14 councillors elected unopposed.

Ms Blair said: "This is the symptom of a broken First Past the Post voting system - one which creates hundreds of safe seats, where other parties often don't stand a chance of winning.

"But it's also the symptom of wider issues of political engagement in Wales which need tackling head on - from introducing votes at 16 and decent citizenship education to moving towards automatic voter registration and fair funding for political parties."

The ERS is campaigning for elections to be run using the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, in which voters put numbers next to candidates in order of preference.

In January, Local Government Secretary Mark Drakeford announced plans to let local councils chose between first past the post and STV in future elections.

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