Wednesday, 6 July 2022 – 09:08
The Senedd/Welsh Parliament

How Politics Works in Wales

Wales is a county in the United Kingdom home to approximately 3.1 million people. 

As one of the countries of the UK, Wales is subject to many of the rules decided by the UK Government and UK Parliament, however, since 1999 it has also had its own Government and Parliament.

In 1999, the National Assembly for Wales was established in Cardiff, today known as the Welsh Parliament or the Senedd Cymru. In 1999, the National Assembly was given several responsibilities, such as over transport and health, but it had to ask the UK Parliament each time it wanted to make a law. Since an approved referendum in 2011, Wales has been able to make its own laws without needing to seek consent from the UK Parliament, although only in certain areas. Over the years, Wales has gained more powers, such as to collect taxes from 2014. 

Navigate through the tabs below to learn more about politics in Wales.


{tab What powers does the Welsh Parliament have?}

Below is a look at some of the topics that the Welsh Parliament can make laws on in Wales.

{module Welsh Parliament Powers}

These are just a few examples and it would be difficult to display every area of policy that the Welsh Parliament can control. You can find out what matters the Welsh Parliament can’t make rules on here, such as Defence. Laws on such topics are set in the UK Parliament in Westminster. It’s also important to note that while Wales can generally control its own health policies, it can’t change the policy on all areas, for example, it can’t change the policy on abortion, which is set by the UK Parliament.


{tab How are people in Wales represented?}

There are multiple ways in which the people of Wales are represented. Like the rest of the UK, Wales is split into constituencies for the UK Parliament and members of the public can elect MPs at general elections. There are 40 UK Parliament constituencies in Wales, most of which are currently held by MPs representing the Labour Party. In the most recent UK General Election in 2019, 22 Welsh seats were won by the Labour Party, 14 were won by the Conservatives and 4 were won by Plaid Cymru, a political party only operating in Wales and advocating Welsh independence from the United Kingdom.

On a national level, the people of Wales are represented by Members of the Senedd (MS). The Senedd (or Parliament) consists of 60 members who are elected every five years through the Additional member system. From 2021, 16 and 17-year-olds will be eligible to vote in Welsh elections. 

40 members of the Senedd are chosen to represent individual constituencies and 20 are chosen to represent the five regions of Wales (North Wales, Mid and West Wales, South Wales West, South Wales Central, and South Wales East). Currently, the largest party is the Labour Party with 29 seats, who are in Government with the one Liberal Democrat member and one Independent member of the Senedd. 

The four key roles of the Senedd are to represent Wales and its people, make laws for Wales, agree on Welsh taxes and hold the government to account.

Unlike the UK Parliament which has both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the Welsh Parliament just has one single chamber. It also has a different layout – members face each other in a circle, rather than the opposition facing the government on the other side of the chamber, as seen in the Westminster Parliament.


{tab How does the Welsh Government work?}

The Welsh Government is led by the First Minister. The Welsh Government is responsible for devolved areas such as education, health and transport, and makes decisions on matters surrounding them. It also develops and implements policies, and proposes Welsh laws.

Scroll down to see more members of the Welsh Government and hover over their photos to learn more. As well as those listed below, there are also a number of Deputy Ministers who attend the Welsh Cabinet.

{module WalesKeyPeople}

Photos are credited to the Welsh Government.




Explore More

Now that you’ve read about how politics work in Wales, why not explore more? Click below to read recent political news from Wales.

{module Latest Political News from Wales}


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