Devolution in Wales came about after the referendum in September 1997 returned a positive result. Unlike the Scottish referendum, the Welsh referendum was not as significantly in favour for devolution as the Scottish referendum. It is thought that the lack of desire for devolution was brought about both by the weakness of the national party (Plaid Cymru) and the north-south split.

Plaid Cymru's main nationalistic persuasion centered around the Welsh language and culture (considering only 500,000 approx. speak Welsh in Wales out of 2.7 million it is quite difficult to gain support from this). Unlike Scotland, it had been a very long time since Wales had been independent of England and it also did not have the same autonomy that Scotland had before the referendum. It was governed purely from England though in 1964 a Welsh Office was introduced (which was in charge of spending money for Wales and QUANGOs). This meant that the people did not care so much for independence and often felt that they were just fine with the English Parliament.

The north-south divide also may have contributed. In the north of Wales there are many nationalistic Welsh but they are far out numbered by the south which has great numbers of English people. This means that there is significant numbers of each to mean that you cannot just listen to those in the majority (something that happens with the English Parliament and its electoral system, FPTP). The English don't really care for devolution since they have strong ties with the rest of England so Westminster is fine for them. However, the wishes of the nationalists cannot just be ignored. Also the northern Welsh are weary of an assembly in Cardiff which may end up being run by the English-speaking political élite.

The Referendum

The referendum asked just one question:

Yr wyf yn cytuno y dylid cael Cynulliad Cymreig
I agree that there should be a Welsh Assembly
neu / or
Nid wyf yn cytuno y dylid cael Cynulliad Cymreig
I do not agree that there should be a Welsh Assembly

The results:

Local Authority        Electorate  Turnout  Agree     %    Do not agree     %
Blaenau Gwent            55,089     49.3%   15,237  56.4%     11,928      43.6%  
Bridgend                100,400     50.6%   27,632  54.4%     23,172      45.6%
Caerphilly              129,060     49.3%   34,830  54.7%     28,841      45.3%
Cardiff                 228,571     46.9%   47,527  44.4%     59,589      55.6%
Carmarthenshire          49,115     56.4%   49,115  65.3%     26,911      34.7%
Ceredigion               54,440     56.8%   18,304  59.2%     12,614      40.8%
Conwy                    87,231     51.5%   18,369  40.9%     26,521      59.1%
Denbighshire             70,410     49.8%   14,271  40.8%     20,732      59.2%
Flintshire              113,181     41.0%   17,746  38.2%     28,710      61.8%
Gwynedd                  92,520     59.8%   35,425  64.1%     19,859      35.9%
Merthyr Tydfil           44,107     49.5%   12,707  58.2%      9,121      41.8%
Monmouthshire            65,309     50.5%   10,592  32.1%     22,403      67.9%
Neath and Port Talbot   106,333     51.9%   36,730  66.5%     18,463      33.5%
Newport                  94,094     46.1%   16,172  37.4%     27,017      62.6%
Pembrokeshire            88,720     52.6%   19,979  42.8%     26,712      57.2%
Powys                    96,107     56.2%   23,038  42.7%     30,966      57.3%
Rhondda Cynon Taff      175,639     49.9%   51,201  58.5%     36,362      41.5%
City of Swansea         174,725     47.1%   42,789  52.0%     39,561      48.0%
Torfaen                  69,505     45.5%   15,756  49.8%     15,854      50.2%
Vale of Glamorgan        89,111     54.3%   17,776  36.7%     30,613      63.3%
Wrexham                  96,787     42.4%   18,574  45.3%     22,449      54.7%
Ynys Môn                 54,044     56.9%   15,649  50.9%     15,095      49.1%

The result was a yes but it was close. There was only a 50.1% turnout and only 50.3% of them voted in favour of devolution. That leaves 49.7% who did not want devolution.

Yet New Labour still introduced devolution with such a small mandate from the people. This is because firstly, there was still a positive outcome in the referendum and secondly, there was a devolved assembly in Scotland so while they were at it they devolved Wales as well. This also had the added effect of appeasing Plaid Cymru.

The Assembly

The Assembly is more or less the same as Scotland. One difference is that the Assembly only has secondary legislative powers (which means that it can only discuss ways to implement legislation promulgated from Westminster). So there are no Welsh laws and the government cannot raise taxes for itself (except for council tax). It relies on money from England. It took over the role of QUANGOs in Wales as well as deciding how all money should be spent. It has members voted in via AMS like Scotland with 40 members voted in with FPTP and 20 with List. Like in Scotland, the first elections were in 1999 and the Assembly started its first term in 2000.

The Assembly itself is not called a Parliament its just 'The Welsh Assembly'. I don't know why.....


The executive is similar to Scotland as well. The First Minister is appointed by the Monarch on advice from the Assembly and is accountable to the Assembly. The executive does not control local government either.

There is still a Secretary of State for Wales in the English Parliament and Welsh MPs as well so the West Lothian question is of importance in relation to Wales as well.

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