Elections to the Welsh Assembly

Senedd – National Assembly for Wales (Cardiff)

The way the Welsh Assembly is elected is a little more complicated than in the rest of the UK. The Assembly has 60 elected Assembly Members (AMs). Assembly elections take place every four years and each registered voter has two votes. The first vote is for a local constituency Member.

A Member is elected for each of the 40 constituencies in Wales by FPTP, with the remaining 20 AMs elected by the Regional Top-Up system in which voters have an extra vote for a specific region that they reside in.

The regions are South Wales East, South Wales Central, South Wales West, Mid and West Wales and North Wales. Each region elects four AMs.

These additional member seats are allocated from the lists by what is called the d’Hondt method, with constituency results being taken into account in the allocation. The overall result is relatively proportional.

General Elections

Welsh voters also vote for MPs to represent them in the UK Parliament. UK General Elections are conducted using First Past The Post, and produce one representative (Member of Parliament/MP) per constituency.


Following the election of Tony Blair’s Labour government in 1997, a referendum was held in Wales over whether there was support for the establishment of a national assembly. A referendum had previously been held in 1979 but had been defeated comfortably. This time a narrow majority voted in favour, and the Government of Wales Act 1998 saw the creation of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Unlike in Scotland, the Welsh Assembly has no tax varying powers, but a further Yes vote in a referendum in 2011 saw the Assembly given the power to make laws without consulting UK parliament.

The National Assembly for Wales is based in Cardiff Bay, and has power in a number of devolved areas, most notably health, education, housing, and transport.

What are the Welsh Government responsible for?

Education, Sport & Recreation

Health & Social Welfare Services

Environment & Agriculture

Including: agriculture, fisheries, forestry, rural development, water and flood defence.

Transport & Highways

Housing & Planning

Tourism & Culture

Including: Welsh language, ancient monuments and historic buildings.

Since 1999, the Assembly has passed a number of prominent laws independently from the UK government. These include the smoking ban of 2007, the capping of tuition fees so that no Welsh student pays more than £3,685 a year, and the system of ‘presumed consent’ which will see Wales will become the first UK nation where consent for organ donation will be assumed unless people have opted out.

Welsh Political Parties

Our Welsh content was produced by our Welsh Political Editor, Brett John.


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