WESTMINSTER’s controversial Elections Bill will “harm democracy and voter freedoms”, Plaid Cymru has warned.
Rhys ab Owen MS, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson on the constitution and justice, said Wales must defend the voting rights of its citizens and commit to creating a fairer system itself.
The Elections Bill, if passed, will bring in major changes to reserved elections, including the introduction of compulsory photographic identification to vote.
Mr ab Owen was speaking ahead of a Senedd debate held today (Wednesday 26 January) which calls on the Welsh Government to formally oppose the Bill.
Rhys ab Owen MS said,
“From curbing the right to peaceful protest, threatening the future of public service broadcasting, curtailing a judicial review and weakening the Human Rights Act and now an attempt through this Elections Bill to undermine the foundations of democracy itself.
“Voting is the foundation of democracy here and everywhere, it gives the people a voice, and the power to hold politicians to account. Any curtailing of this not only threatens to undermine all our rights, but it also threatens to harm our democracy and voter freedoms.
“If ever there was proof of the increasing chasm between the approaches to politics in devolved nations and Westminster it is the Elections Bill. Not only scrapping a more proportionate voting system by changing the way Police and Crime Commissioners are elected to a First Past the Post system, it also introduces a requirement for photo identification to vote that is proven to reduce democratic participation.
“In Wales, we must do all that we can to reject this attempt to disenfranchise our citizens. Instead, we must pledge to create a better system in Wales, where elections are fair and accessible for all voters.
“Westminster may not be working for anyone right now but we in Wales can choose to do things differently – and better.