Friday, 19 August 2022 – 11:24

Guide to the Welsh Senedd elections: Key points you need to know

Voters will head to the polls this week to elect members to the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru – here’s a look at the key points you need to know about the election…

 

What’s at stake in the election?

There are 60 seats at stake in the election, plus the results of the election will determine who forms the next Welsh Government.

The Senedd is Wales’ Parliament. Since 1999, the Parliament (previously known as the National Assembly of Wales) has had a number of powers to create laws on issues affecting the people of Wales, such as health and education, and these powers have increased somewhat over the years. Some policy areas are reserved, such as defence, meaning that only the UK Parliament can make laws on such matters.

The Welsh Government, also setup in 1999, is responsible to the Senedd – much like the dynamic between the UK Government and UK Parliament. The Government is led by the First Minister. Since 2018, the First Minister of Wales has been Labour’s Mark Drakeford.

 

How does the election work?

Overall, there are 60 Members of the Senedd (MSs) to be elected. 40 of these members represent constituency areas, while another 20 represent the five regions of the country.

There are 4 MSs representing each region, including South Wales East, South Wales Central, South Wales West, Mid and West Wales, and North Wales.

At the polls, voters get two ballot papers and are asked to choose a person to be their constituency MS and a party to represent their region. Due to coronavirus, people are being asked to take their own pen or pencil to the polling station – there may also be an increased number of people who choose to vote by post.

In constituencies, the candidate with the most votes wins – simple. For the 20 regional seats, it is a bit more complicated – the members are elected according to how many votes their party picked up in their region, as part of a proportional system.

If any party wins more than 30 seats overall, they can form a government. Any less than 30 seats may require some form of coalition government or occasional deals to allow the biggest party to govern the country.

 

What are the key issues at this election?

The coronavirus pandemic will likely be the main issue on people’s minds at this election. In particular, people may decide how to vote depending on their viewpoint of how well they believe the current Welsh Government has responded to COVID-19.

Wales currently has the lowest rates of COVID-19 in the UK by some way and throughout the pandemic, Drakeford’s government has opted for a cautious approach in lifting restrictions. Some people believe this approach has been responsible and the best way to move forward, however, others have openly criticised the government, saying they should ease restrictions faster or should have offered various groups of society more support during lockdowns.

How Wales moves forward and recovers after COVID-19 will also be a significant topic of debate. The election is not though all about COVID-19 – other topics important to the public such as education, transport and the operation of the NHS more generally feature in election pledges by the parties.

For this election, the number of people that can vote is also being expanded. For the first time, people aged 16 and 17 years old will be able to cast their votes, while an expanded number of foreign nationals will also be able to do so. The deadline to register to vote for these elections has passed – you can register ready for future elections at gov.uk/register-to-vote.

 

Who are the parties I can vote for?

There are a significant number of different political parties that are active in Wales, all with different priorities and policies on how to govern the country.

We’ve listed below the parties that currently have seats in the Senedd. In some areas, there may also be independent candidates standing – these are candidates that are not affiliated with any political party but can still be elected to the Senedd. It is also possible that candidates from other parties not listed below may be elected, so it is advisable to check the candidates standing in your own area and to do your own research before voting.

Click through the tabs below for an overview of some of the major policies pledged by each party…

 

{tab Welsh Labour Party}

The Welsh Labour Party currently has 29 seats in the Welsh Senedd. Its leader, Mark Drakeford, is the current First Minister of Wales.

Some of the key policies of the party for this election include;

  • Continue to work with public-sector staff and volunteers to get people vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Employ over 1,800 new tutoring staff in schools to help with post-pandemic catch-up
  • Establish a ‘Young Persons’ Guarantee’ of a place in work, education, training or self-employment for everyone in the country under 25 years old
  • Ensure the Real Living Wage for all social care staff
  • Invest £800m in new trains and keep the Wales and the Borders rail franchise in public ownership
  • Create a National Forest for Wales

You can find out more about the party’s policies in their manifesto.

 

{tab Plaid Cymru}

In the current Parliament, Plaid Cymru has 10 seats, making the party the joint second-largest political party in the Senedd. The party’s leader is Adam Price.

Some of the key policies of the party for this election include;

  • Reduce NHS waiting lists and raise the hourly wage of care workers to at least £10 an hour
  • Employ 2,000 extra teachers and 2,000 extra support staff in Welsh schools to help with post-pandemic catchup
  • Guarantee a job on at least the Real Living Wage or high-quality training for everyone aged 16-24 years old
  • Hold a Welsh independence referendum by 2026
  • Create 50,000 affordable homes to rent and buy over the next five years
  • Target net-zero emissions by 2035

You can find out more about the party’s policies in their manifesto.

 

{tab Welsh Conservative Party}

In the current Parliament, the Welsh Conservatives have 10 seats, making the party the joint second-largest political party in the Senedd. The party’s leader is Andrew RT Davies.

Some of the key policies of the party for this election include;

  • Build five new hospitals and fund 3,000 more nurses and 1,200 more doctors
  • Invest in 5,000 more teachers for Welsh schools
  • Target net-zero emissions by 2050 and create 15,000 new green jobs
  • Work together with the UK Government and ensure no new powers for the Welsh Government
  • Appoint a dedicated COVID-19 Recovery Minister in the Welsh Government 
  • Build 100,000 homes over the next decade and give more people the opportunity to own their own home

You can find out more about the party’s policies in their manifesto.

 

{tab Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party}

In the current Parliament, the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party holds just one seat. The party’s leader is Richard Suchorzewski.

Some of the key policies of the party for this election include;

  • Abolish the Welsh Senedd/Parliament through a referendum
  • Sell Cardiff Airport and work towards a more integrated UK-led rail system
  • Pursue a UK-led response to COVID-19, rather than a four-nation approach
  • End the target for 1 million Welsh speakers
  • Restore the one National Health Service
  • Give taxation powers back to Westminster

You can find out more about the party’s policies in their statement of policy.

 

{tab Welsh Liberal Democrats}

In the current Parliament, the Welsh Liberal Democrats hold just one seat and support the Government. The party’s leader is Jane Dodds.

Some of the key policies of the party for this election include;

  • Support high-streets and small businesses with £500m to help with recovery from the pandemic.
  • Increase the share of mental-health funding to 13% of all NHS spend by 2028
  • Pass a Green Homes Act to help cut average household energy bills by £500 per year
  • Free public transport for young people up to 25
  • Universal access to free childcare from the age of 9 months
  • Provide free school meals throughout the holidays and tackle food poverty

You can find out more about the party’s policies in their manifesto.

 

{tab UKIP Wales}

In the current Parliament, UKIP Wales hold just one seat. The party’s leader is Neil Hamilton.

Some of the key policies of the party for this election include;

  • Scrap the Welsh Assembly
  • Stand against the removal of statues and British heritage
  • Reduce net migration to below 10,000 per year
  • Oppose the introduction of ‘vaccine passports’
  • End lockdown measures and restrictions immediately
  • Campaign for the UK to be taken out of the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement

You can find out more about the party’s policies in their manifesto.

 

{tab Propel}

In the current Parliament, Propel hold just one seat. The party was formed in January 2020 and its leader is Neil McEvoy.

Some of the key policies of the party for this election include;

  • End all Welsh lockdowns and commit to not returning to them
  • Establish a Welsh national energy company
  • Create a Modern Direct Democracy Act for a Welsh Constitution and a bill of rights
  • Establish a Stock Exchange Cymru for listing Welsh companies wishing to publicly trade company shares
  • Reject the building of nuclear reactors
  • Develop a ‘housing first’ policy to end homelessness and close the second homes loophole in Wales

You can find out more about the party’s policies in their manifesto.

 

{/tabs}

*’Current Parliament’ refers to the composition of the Welsh Senedd ahead of its dissolution on 29 April.

 

When will we know the results of the election?

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is expected that it will take longer than usual for results to be declared in elections this May. Most results from this election can be expected on Friday 7 May and some may also be announced over the weekend.

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