Whilst the last year may have been extremely tough for many, one positive element of the pandemic has been an increased awareness of the Welsh Parliament (or Senedd) and the Welsh Government due to the differences in approach taken in Wales to the one taken in England.
And that has certainly been apparent in the field of education. Last summer saw a divergence in approaches to exams and qualifications across the UK and we’re still seeing different approaches when it comes to reopening schools post-lockdown.
The responsibility for education in Wales lies with the Senedd. Therefore, to have your voice heard when it comes to your children’s education, voting in the forthcoming Senedd election is vitally important. In addition, it’s not just parents and adults that can vote in May, for the first time 16 and 17 year olds will be able to vote in the Senedd election and if you have teenagers impacted by the upheaval of last year’s exam changes, I’m sure they’ll want to have their say.
So, who are the Members of the Welsh Parliament?
There are 60 MSs. Each person living in Wales is represented by five members, which includes one constituency MS and four regional MSs. There are 40 constituencies in Wales and five regions, each with four members. You can contact any of the five MSs that represent you.
When is the election?
Senedd elections are held every five years, with the next election scheduled for 6 May 2021. To vote in a Senedd election, you must be registered and over the age of 16 on the day of the poll. You must also be one of the following: A British or Irish citizen; a commonwealth citizen with leave to remain in the UK; a citizen of an EU country with leave to remain in the UK; a qualifying foreign citizen who has permission to enter or stay in the UK. The deadline for voter registration is Monday 19 April or if you wish to vote by post or proxy, the deadline is Tuesday 6 April.
Who can I vote for?
The Senedd uses a different voting system to Westminster. The Additional Member System (AMS) is a form of proportional representation which elects members to the Senedd in two ways. Each person gets two votes.
The first vote asks voters to select one candidate to be their constituency member, just like voting at a UK election, using the ‘First Past the Post’ counting system. The second vote asks people to select one party. This vote is used to elect your four regional MSs, and allocates a proportional amount of seats to different parties.
You can find out which constituency and region you live in using the Senedd’s post code finder. Candidates will be confirmed on 9th April, and will be posted on your local council website. Ahead of this date, political parties will also publish their confirmed candidates on their websites.
Where can I read their policies?
Each party with candidates standing for election will publish their manifestos ahead of polling day (likely to be early April). This is where they set out the policies and commitments they will take forward if they win enough seats to form the next Welsh Government. In the lead up to an election period, organisations such as Parentkind will have engaged with all political parties to share their ‘asks’ of the next Government and to encourage them to include their policies in their manifesto. You can read Parentkind’s asks here.