Political and civic participation, including political representation – Welsh Government assessment
There have been changes to the policy and legal framework to increase political participation and improve the diversity of political representation. This includes the extension of the right to vote to young people aged 16–17 and qualifying foreign citizens, and specific programmes to increase the political representation of ethnic minority and disabled people. The Welsh Government has also developed an action plan to increase the diversity of public appointments in Wales and funded a range of mentoring initiatives over the past three years. However, ethnic minorities and disabled people remain under-represented in politics and on public boards, particularly in senior roles.
- The Welsh Government’s proposed Welsh Parliament (Senedd) reforms, including gender quotas, are intended to increase diversity among political representatives.
- The first woman from an ethnic minority background was elected to the Senedd in 2021. A total of 26 women were elected, representing 43% of the Senedd.
- Women, people from ethnic minorities, disabled, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) and younger people, and those with lower incomes, are markedly under-represented in local government. In the May 2017 local elections, 34% of the candidates were women, 98% were White and 15% were disabled.
- Voter turnout increased at the 2021 Senedd election from 45% to 46.6%, an all-time high.
- The political participation and engagement of young people has increased through the introduction of the Welsh Youth Parliament by the Llywydd (Presiding Officer) and the Senedd. More than 25,000 young people registered to vote in the Youth Parliament elections in 2018. The recent extension of the right to vote in Senedd and local elections to young people aged 16–17 in the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020 and the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 respectively will further advance political participation among young people.
- Despite previous commitments from the Welsh Government, it has not yet introduced legislation to extend the right to vote in local government elections to prisoners serving sentences of less than four years, meaning prisoners in Wales serving custodial sentences remain unable to vote.
- The proportion of public appointments and reappointments made by the Welsh Government to women was 48.5% in 2020/21, up from 42.4% in 2019/20. However, the proportion of public appointments and reappointments made by Welsh Government to people from ethnic minorities was less than 5% in 2020/21, down from 8.1% in 2019/20.
Read more about the UK and Welsh Governments’ actions on political and civic participation, including political representation.