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Contemporary Wales
Contemporary Wales

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8.2 Broadening engagement and participation in Welsh politics

The term ‘inclusive’ acquired a second meaning in debates leading up to, and during the earliest years of, devolution, namely ‘a concern for fostering wider citizen participation in government and engagement with different social groupings’ (Chaney and Fevre, 2001, p. 26). In this sense, inclusive politics means empowering and involving groups of people that have previously been marginalised or excluded from the political process.

In Scotland, devolution was, in part, a response to demands from such disempowered groups for a greater participation in government. In contrast, there were few such demands in Wales. Given the lack of enthusiasm for such a broadening of democratic involvement, the challenge for the National Assembly was to create new opportunities for mass engagement and participation in the political process. We consider the extent to which this has been achieved in the rest of this section. The focus in particular is on the extent to which devolution has created a vibrant civil society in Wales where one did not previously exist. Let’s begin by defining this key term.