Building Bridges: Wales’ democracy – now, and for our future

The cover of Building Bridges, the IWA's new report on democracy in Wales

A new report from the IWA, Building Bridges: Wales’ democracy – now, and for our future, calls for measures to strengthen Wales’ democracy beyond the electoral cycle and warns against the effects of political pessimism if we are to overcome our ‘democratic malaise’.

Based on a roundtable convening grassroots organisers, researchers and government officials organised in collaboration with the Open University in Wales, the paper highlights a wealth of evidence, innovative measures and experiments in democracy that look beyond electoral processes. It also shows that democratic education needs to be co-created and participatory in order to be effective.

Low election turnout is only the tip of the political participation iceberg. Many people in Wales are invested in their community, and show it daily through volunteering, getting involved in neighbourhood groups or local campaigns, attending protests and signing petitions. Wales can build on this energy to do democracy differently.

Ahead of electoral reforms in Wales, we need metrics that broaden our understanding of politics and how people engage in them. These should also include measures to widen participation ahead of elections so as to avoid using digital technology to deliver an analogue system.

Beyond highlighting several successful pilots, the report called for joined up work that would build on those successes to effect system change.

Dylan Moore, the IWA’s Media and Democracy Policy Lead and author of the report, said: ‘As a small country, Wales has been home to many pilots pushing the boundaries of how democracy can work. The time is ripe to weave those innovations into the fabric of our society so that they are not just one-offs, but become scalable experiments in how to do democracy differently. People are not bored of politics, it’s the way we talk about politics that needs to change so that its relevance to people’s lives becomes obvious.’

You can read the full report here (English version) and in Welsh here.

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