Electoral Reform (Consultation)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 28th September 2022.

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Photo of Mr Mark Ruskell Mr Mark Ruskell Green

8. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on its plans to consult further on electoral reform in Scotland. (S6O-01387)

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

Work has been under way over the summer to prepare a public consultation and my officials and I have had helpful initial discussions with several interested stakeholders.

Photo of Mr Mark Ruskell Mr Mark Ruskell Green

I thank the minister for that very welcome news. Greens have campaigned for a long time for a truly residence-based franchise in Scotland, in which everyone who lives here, including 16-year-olds, has the right to vote and stand in elections.

I hope that the new consultation will go some way to fixing inequalities in our electoral franchise in relation to candidacy rights, although I want to see it go further in extending voting rights to people who are seeking asylum.

How will the consultation encourage particularly disenfranchised communities to respond?

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

The consultation paper will be published by the end of this year. I have already met a number of key stakeholders in relation to possible consultation topics and I plan to continue that approach. I would be happy to consider any suggestion from the member and discuss further the issues that he has mentioned or any ideas that other members may have for the process.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

On that note, we will have two brief supplementaries, the first of which is from Stephen Kerr.

Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative

On that note, does the minister agree that the current modified D’Hondt system that we are using disproportionately rewards parties that do not stand candidates in constituencies? Should parties with candidates on the regional list ranking not have to stand candidates in constituencies for the system to be anything like fair and reasonable, rather than our having parties game the system?

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

As always, Mr Kerr is quite entertaining and has plenty of ideas on this issue. I would say that today is possibly not the time to start talking about rewriting the Scotland Act 1998. It is possibly a discussion for us all to have in the future.

Photo of Willie Rennie Willie Rennie Liberal Democrat

I will spare the minister my full slide show from a recent visit to observe the Swedish election, but since we are on the subject of gaming, would the minister look at the Swedish system, which is the ultra-proportional open-list system, with 28 regions and a national rebalancing mechanism, as a means to avoid gaming of the electoral system in Scotland?

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

This is not to commit myself to anything at this stage, but I am quite willing to discuss that system with Mr Rennie and have a look at it, and we could possibly take it from there.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Deftly done. That ends portfolio questions on Covid-19 recovery and parliamentary business.