PROPOSALS to reform the Senedd have been overwhelmingly adopted by Welsh Labour at a special recall conference. 

The conference in Cardiff Bay agreed with plans that will see the number of Senedd members increase from 60 to 96.

Members backed the move by 75.64 per cent, with 24.36 per cent voting against the proposals.

However, the method by which Senedd members would be elected had sparked controversy amongst the party.

The ‘closed list system’ had been opposed by some Labour branches, while it had also been discounted by an expert panel that examined potential electoral reform back in 2017. 

Any change to the Senedd's electoral system need to be backed by two thirds of members. Mark Drakeford had agreed the package of proposals with Plaid Cymru. The changes are intended to be made in time for the next Senedd election in 2026.

It is likely to dramatically change the face of Welsh politics – marking Welsh elections as markedly different from those held in the other countries of the UK and from how those of the first 23 years of Welsh devolution were conducted. 

Mark Drakeford said on Twitter: "I am delighted that Welsh Labour delegates have today decided to support Senedd reform. Today's vote will strengthen Wales’ democracy, secure the future of our Senedd and ensure people across Wales are better represented – reflecting the modern Wales in which we live."

Plaid Cymru spokesperson on the constitution, Rhys ab Owen MS said: “Plaid Cymru welcomes Welsh Labour’s decision to formally endorse proposals for a stronger, more diverse and more representative Senedd. Our parliament will be better equipped to improve the lives of the people of Wales thanks to Plaid Cymru’s Co-operation Agreement with the Welsh Government. 

“This is a significant and positive moment in our nation’s history. It is nevertheless disappointing to see some dissent particularly by Westminster MPs. They are on the wrong side of history when it comes to Wales’s democratic journey. 

"We turn our sights now to ensuring the work of implementing our vision gets underway in earnest and with urgency - to ensure reform becomes reality by the next Senedd election in 2026." 


But the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, hit back at the proposals, and called for a referendum on any Senedd expansion: “Mark Drakeford has given Labour members a vote on more politicians, he should now do the right thing and give the Welsh people a vote in a referendum.

“It’s clear that a significant part of the Labour movement has serious concerns about these plans and the destruction of the localised link between voters and their elected representatives.

“If the Labour establishment really think this is good for Wales, then they should give the public a say.”

This article was originally published on our sister title The National. You can support The National's journalism by becoming a subscriber.