Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood AM has outlined her party's plans for reviving Wales' democracy and delivering an open and accountable Plaid Cymru government if elected in May.
Speaking at an Electoral Reform Society event in Aberystwyth University last night, Leanne Wood detailed how a Plaid Cymru government, within its first hundred days, would consult on the most significant democratic renewal Wales has seen since devolution, including the introduction of a new Welsh Representation of the People's Act.
She added that a Plaid Cymru government would also extend the franchise so that 16 and 17 year olds have a right to vote, as well as establishing a Youth Parliament for Wales.
Criticising the current Labour Welsh Government's "bunker mentality", Leanne Wood said that a Plaid Cymru government "will open up the corridors of power to scrutiny and to discussion", ensuring Wales' status as a vibrant and youthful democracy.
Speaking last night, Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood said:
"Within the first one hundred days of a Plaid Cymru government we will consult on the most significant democratic renewal our country ahs seen since devolution and that will form the basis of our bill that will eventually become the Welsh Representation of the Peoples Act.
"As part of Plaid Cymru's proposals for a New Welsh Representation of the People's Act, we will seek to extend the franchise so that sixteen and seventeen year olds have a right to vote at all elections within the competence of the National Assembly for Wales.
"We believe that fostering democratic engagement at a young age should be promoted through the establishment of a National Youth Parliament. The National Youth Parliament we propose will input directly to our national life and our national government.
"We will also consult on digitalising Welsh democracy - learning from countries such as Estonia and trialling digital voting. Digital voting is not new in that country and there is much we can learn in terms of cyber security and election. For too long, engagement in and an awareness of Welsh political developments has been hampered due to the lack of a widely consumed Welsh media.
"It means we must take every possible step to widen access to our National Assembly and its work. Plaid Cymru will consult on the introduction of a new petitioning mechanism.
"The work of the Assembly's petitions committee has been valuable and we want to build upon it. We will seek to create a mechanism to whereby a petition that gathers ten thousand signatures or more would automatically be debated in the National Assembly for Wales.
"I want people in Wales to have a clear sense of the nature of a Plaid Cymru government. A sense of how we will open up the corridors of power to scrutiny and to discussion.
"The steps I will instigate from the office of the First Minister will begin with publishing all ministerial decisions and holding public cabinet meetings across the nation. I have often spoken of my aim to deliver a devolution dividend for all Wales, economically, socially and politically. Ensuring access tot he nation's cabinet in all parts of the nation is central in all parts of the nation is central to this aim.
"We have endured the best part of two decades of a Labour bunker mentality government. Burying itself away from public view as best it can for fear of attracting scrutiny.
"The government I lead will be different. We will be open. We will be accessible. We will be answerable. We will do our best to make Wales the best it can be. We will doubtless get things wrong along the way. But we will not shy away from scrutiny or accountability.
"That kind of government, coupled with a renewed democracy that can be facilitated by our new Welsh Representation of the People's act, will be firm foundations for an old nation to emerge as a vibrant, youthful democracy."
Steve Brooks, Director of Electoral Reform Society Cymru added:
“Electoral Reform Society Cymru are looking forward to raising the issues around our still developing democracy in Wales in the coming election campaign. We look forward to hearing from parties from across the political spectrum about their vision and ambitions for democracy in Wales. We also look forward to holding their feet to the fire to ensure all voices in Wales are heard, and that we have a National Assembly that represents and delivers for the people of Wales.
“Democracy is about more than just winning seats, or putting an X in the box in the election in May. It is about how we represent the diversity of Welsh communities properly, and how we ensure that the decisions of those in power are made accountable to ensure that we have the best possible policies to deliver for people in Wales. We look forward to ensuring that this remains a central part of all parties’ vision for the next Assembly term."