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THREE QUARTERS OF WALES BACKS COUNCIL VOTING REFORM SAYS POLL

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Welsh voters want a fairer voting system for local council elections. That...
Welsh voters want a fairer voting system for local council elections. That

is the clear message of an opinion poll conducted by an independent research

organisation.

The poll, commissioned by the Electoral Reform Society, sought views on the

Sunderland Commission's recommendation that Welsh councils should be elected

by a form of proportional representation. Of those interviewed, 77% agreed

that a party's share of the seats should more accurately reflect their share

of the votes, while only 10% opposed the idea.

Moreover, when it was pointed out that a proportional system would make it

more difficult for single parties to control councils, 62% felt this would

make councils better, and only 10% thought it would be worse.

'On Wednesday morning, the Welsh Assembly's Local Government Committee will

receive a report on a 'consultation' which suggests a small majority opposed

to reform,' said Ken Ritchie, chief executive of the Electoral Reform

Society. 'Our new opinion poll shows that that 'consultation' outcome does

not represent the views of the people of Wales.'

'The poll also found that very few people knew anything about the

consultation being conducted by Edwina Hart's office. We suspect that many

of the responses to the consultation came from councils or individual

councillors - people who have a vested interest in the voting system by

which they were elected.'

'Just as we would not expect turkeys to vote for Christmas, we would not

expect those with a vested interest in the status quo to back a fairer

voting system. We should not let moves towards a better system be obstructed

by those who fear it might deprive them of their political power. Democracy

must belong to everyone.'

'The Sunderland Commission consulted very widely and then came to the

conclusion that Welsh local councils should be elected by the Single

Transferable Vote system. If the Welsh Executive feels that more views are

needed, it should commission a large-scale poll of public opinion from a

reputable polling organisation and not just rely on the views of political

insiders.'

Notes:

The Sunderland Committee (The Commission on Local Government Electoral

Arrangements in Wales) was established by the Welsh Assembly Government to

look into the structure and method of election of local councillors. The

commission included members of all assembly parties as well as elections

experts and academics. The commission recommended the STV (Single

Transferable Vote) system of election.

Beaufort Research Limited conducted a telephone survey of a representative

sample of 217 adults across Wales over the period 3 to 4 December 2002.

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