It’s less than 100 days until the Assembly elections in Wales (and Scotland, Northern Ireland and the London Assembly for that matter). The election debate is heating up.
So broadcasters are making their plans for televised election broadcasts – including who exactly will feature on them…
Electoral Reform Society Cymru are calling on media outlets in Wales to include all six major parties in their election debates, to make the upcoming broadcasts as inclusive as possible. We’ve already got the conversation started.
Although the arrangements for the TV election debates have yet to be decided, there’s a strong case for including the six biggest parties. Last year’s UK general election debates featured seven leaders. Any fears about timing and messiness were entirely allayed – they were a huge success.
Why should six parties appear? For one thing, there are six parties with a genuine chance of winning Assembly seats this May. Their voices should be heard.
Secondly, the public in Wales deserve as open and inclusive a debate as possible, especially given that the proportional electoral system means there is now a truly multi-party political system in Wales, with a diverse range of viewpoints in the democratic arena.
As well as that, the Assembly is getting more powers. There’s going to be a greater need for scrutiny, including those parties that might join any coalition. Voters should be given a true representation of the options available in May.
Last year’s Westminster TV debates drew in millions of viewers because there was a real debate with clear differences of opinion. It makes for good democracy.
So, here’s the long and short of it: it would be wrong for broadcasters in Wales to exclude the Greens and UKIP. Their support has grown significantly since the last Assembly elections. And both parties are in the race to secure their first Assembly Members this May. It’s only right that they should face the scrutiny of the public and other parties.
Let’s open up these TV debates to reflect the diverse political landscape Wales has today. To exclude serious contenders for seats would be a missed opportunity and would only let down voters.
I’ll be working with Electoral Reform Society Cymru in the run up to the Assembly elections in May.
ERS Cymru will be releasing three mini-manifestos ahead of the Assembly elections, as well as polling, research and seat projections.