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Modern Day Chartists would want electoral reform

November 4, 2008 12:00 AM
Originally published by Welsh Liberal Democrats

On the 169th anniversary of the Chartist uprising in Newport, local AM Mike German has called for a change in the way elections take place in Wales.

Mr German, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said: "If John Frost were alive today, I'm sure he would be arguing for a fairer system of voting than that which we still employ for Parliament, councils and the majority of seats in the National Assembly for Wales.

"The Chartists were all about making politics more accessible to working people, and making sure that the voice of working people was heard as loudly as that of the rich. That battle goes on today.

"The Chartists may have secured most of their original aims (annual parliaments being the exception), but the need for reform is still there. In the campaigns to lower the voting age to 16, and to introduce fairer voting systems, the reforming spirit of the Chartists lives on in modern politics. Their legacy crosses party boundaries, and as we remember their attempts to secure a fairer society in their time, we do so best by campaigning for a fairer society today."

Notes: The Newport Rising of November 4th, 1839 was the last large-scale armed rebellion against authority in mainland Britain.

Five of the six points in the Charter were adopted by 1918. The exception was annual elections.

The six points:Suffrage Suffrage for all men age 21 and over

Equal-sized electoral districts Voting by secret ballot

An end to the need for a property qualification for Parliament

Pay for Members of Parliament

Annual election of Parliament