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Contemporary Wales
Contemporary Wales

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8 Political representation

Anwen Elias

Political representation is a core feature of any modern democratic system, organised around the core principle of rule by the people. This is because we periodically elect representatives who take political decisions, and implement policies, on our behalf. But political representation is also a very contentious issue. Political scientists and politicians disagree on key questions relating to the basic notion of political representation, such as who should be represented, who should do the representing, and what kind of representation is desirable.

This section examines how some of these questions about political representation have been addressed in Wales. In particular, we will examine how concerns with the quality of political representation in Wales by the mid-1990s led to a major programme of constitutional reform – devolution – and the creation of a new democratically elected body, the National Assembly for Wales (NAW). Champions of devolution during the mid-1990s saw this as a process that would bring about a new form of politics in Wales, one that would be characterised first and foremost by its inclusivity. This section examines whether Welsh politics has in fact become more inclusive since then, and the degree to which devolution has enhanced the quality of political representation in Wales.