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2021 Senedd election

Legislative election in Wales

Top 10 2021 Senedd election related articles

2021 Senedd election

← 2016 6 May 2021 Next →

All 60 seats to the Senedd
31 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
Turnout46.6% 1.2%
  First party Second party
Leader Mark Drakeford Andrew RT Davies
Party Labour Conservative
Leader since 6 December 2018 24 January 2021[1]
Leader's seat Cardiff West South Wales Central
Last election 29 seats 11 seats
Seats won 30 16
Seat change 1 5
Constituency Vote 443,047 289,802
% and swing 39.9% 5.2pp 26.1% 5.0pp
Regional Vote 401,770 278,560
% and swing 36.2% 4.7pp 25.1% 6.3pp

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Adam Price Jane Dodds
Party Plaid Cymru Liberal Democrats
Leader since 28 September 2018 3 November 2017
Leader's seat Carmarthen East and Dinefwr Mid and West Wales
Last election 12 seats 1 seat
Seats won 13 1
Seat change 1
Constituency Vote 225,376 54,202
% and swing 20.3% 0.2pp 4.9% 2.8pp
Regional Vote 230,161 48,217
% and swing 20.7% 0.1pp 4.3% 2.2pp

Full results of the election in both categories

First Minister before election

Mark Drakeford

First Minister after election

Mark Drakeford

The 2021 Senedd election took place on Thursday 6 May 2021[2] to elect 60 members to the Senedd (Welsh Parliament; Welsh: Senedd Cymru). It was the sixth devolved general election since the Senedd (formerly the National Assembly for Wales) was established in 1999. The election was held alongside the Scottish Parliament election, English local elections, London Assembly and mayoral election and the Hartlepool by-election.

It was the first election in which 16 and 17-year-olds and legally resident foreign nationals are allowed to vote in Wales, the largest extension of the franchise in Wales since 1969. Both changes were a result of the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020.[3] It was the first election for the legislature under its new name - 'Senedd Cymru' or 'the Welsh Parliament' - and thus this election may be called the 2021 Welsh Parliament election,[4][5] or 2021 Senedd Cymru election,[6][7] in preference over the shorter name.

Five parties had Members of the Senedd (MSs, formerly Assembly Members – AMs) elected at the last election: Welsh Labour, the Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), and the Welsh Liberal Democrats. Seven political parties were represented in the Senedd prior to the election. These are the five aforementioned parties and two parties that gained MSs who were elected for – and moved from – other political parties. The Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party gained two MSs who were elected for UKIP in 2016, and Propel (previously the Welsh Nation Party) gained an MS elected for Plaid Cymru in 2016.

The governing Labour Party's share of the constituency vote increased by over 5%, and the regional vote by over 4%, with thirty Labour MSs elected accounting for exactly half of the sixty seats, one more than in 2016 but one short of an overall majority and remaining as the largest party. The Conservatives became the Senedd's second-largest party and the official opposition to the Welsh Government with sixteen MSs elected, five more than their 2016 result. This result is the best that the Conservatives managed to achieve since the Senedd was established. Plaid Cymru slipped down to third place with thirteen MSs elected, one more than in 2016, but two MSs later moved from the party prior to the 2021 election meaning they gained three more MSs than before, re-gaining former Plaid seats in Dwyfor Meirionnydd from former Plaid MS Dafydd Elis-Thomas (later as an independent not standing for re-election, supporting the previous Welsh Government) and in South Wales Central from Propel. Coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats lost their single constituency seat from 2016, but gained a regional list seat, keeping their total of one seat, the same as in 2016. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) received no seats, down from their seven in the 2016 election. This included seats later transferred to the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party, who also received no seats.

Percentage vote share of the 2021 Senedd election by constituency.[8]

2021 Senedd election Intro articles: 54

Electoral system

In elections for the Senedd, using the additional member system, each voter has two votes. The first vote is for a member for the voter's constituency, elected by the first past the post system. The second vote is for a regional closed party list of candidates. Additional member seats are allocated from the lists by the D'Hondt method, with constituency results being taken into account in the allocation. In this election the system achieved a broadly proportional result in the North Wales and Mid and West Wales electoral regions. However, as in previous elections, the large number of constituency seats won by the Labour Party in the South Wales West, South Wales Central and South Wales East electoral regions, when set against the small proportion of available additional regional seats, means that the Labour Party is over-represented by a margin of four seats, when considered on a proportional basis.

Under the Wales Act 2014, a candidate is allowed to stand in both a constituency and a regional list. However, holding a dual mandate with the House of Commons is illegal, meaning a Member of the Senedd cannot also be an MP.

This was the first election where 16 and 17-year olds could vote, following the enactment of Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act in January 2020.[3]

The registration deadline for voters in this election was 11:59 pm, 19 April 2021.[9]

2021 Senedd election Electoral system articles: 12


The 2019 European Parliament election in the United Kingdom was the last of its kind. The newly formed Brexit Party came out on top in Wales. Plaid Cymru, who support full Welsh independence, came second, marking the first time it had beaten Labour in a Wales-wide election.[10] The Brexit Party also formed a parliamentary group in the Assembly made up of the four ex-UK Independence Party (UKIP) members, led by Mark Reckless.[11] A snap general election in the United Kingdom was held on 12 December 2019. Welsh Labour suffered an 8% drop in their vote, losing all their seats in North Wales, except for Alyn and Deeside. Labour ended up losing six parliamentary seats to the Welsh Conservatives in Boris Johnson's landslide victory. These seats included Bridgend, which has been represented on the assembly level by former First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones since the 1999 election. The Conservatives also picked up Brecon and Radnorshire from the Welsh Liberal Democrats.[12]

On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union. This followed a referendum on the matter in which Wales narrowly voted to leave the EU.[13] South Wales has been highlighted by many as evidence that Brexit cut across traditional party allegiances, as the area typically votes overwhelmingly for Labour. The band of eight local authorities covering the Valleys area from Swansea in the west to Torfaen in the east, plus the coastal city of Newport, all voted in favour of Brexit,[14] and all are represented in the House of Commons by Labour MPs, all of whom wished to remain in the EU.[15]

Plaid Cymru campaigned for a Remain vote in the 2016 referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.[16] Plaid Cymru later supported, during the final stages of Brexit process, a second referendum on the matter.[17][18] Plaid Cymru argued that there should be a referendum on Welsh independence after Brexit, so that Wales could apply for EU membership.[19] A June 2020 YouGov/ITV Cymru poll concluded that 25% were in favour of independence and 54% opposed. The same poll found that 22% of respondents wanted no devolution in Wales, and that 25% were for abolition of the Senedd, with 48% opposed to abolition.[20][21] A follow-up YouGov poll in August 2020 concluded that support for Welsh independence had risen to 32%.[22] However, polling in February 2021 showed that support for abolition of the Senedd was outperforming support for independence.[23]

On 17 May 2020, Health Minister Vaughan Gething told ITV Wales it was "possible" that the election might not be allowed to happen, because of the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.[24] The First Minister announced on 29 June 2020 that a group with representatives from all of the main parties would look at the arrangements that might have to be in place for the election if COVID-19 restrictions are still required. It would look at campaigning and voting, gathering "views over the summer so that by September, any changes the group feels would be beneficial can be considered and taken forward".[25] There was no consensus to agree if a delay was needed, but all parties agreed on measures to encourage vulnerable voters and others to consider applying for a postal vote and early applications, greater flexibility around the nomination of candidates, postal and proxy voting, and measures to ensure the safe operation of polling stations and count venues.[26] The Wales Electoral Coordination Board said on 5 January 2021 that counting of Senedd election votes cannot be done overnight because of COVID restrictions. The board said that the count "will require more staff and take longer to perform."[27]

The Welsh Government introduced a bill under emergency legislation, Welsh Elections (Coronavirus) Bill, in January 2021. It gives the Llywydd (presiding officer) the power to delay the election (with the recommendation of date by the First Minister and consent of two-thirds of the Senedd) by up to six months if the Coronavirus pandemic would make the elections unsafe. The bill was passed on the 10 February 2021 with powers also to introduce early voting and more flexibility with proxy voting.[28][29]

On 9 March 2021 in a joint British Governments statement ministers said that there will be safety measures in place for May's elections. They encouraged voters to take their own pens or pencils and reconfirmed their aim for elections being conducted on the 6 May 2021.[30][31] In the 3-week review on the 12 March 2021 the First Minister said that the threshold for postponing the election hasn't currently been met. Mark Drakeford also said that leafleting (not door knocking) will be able to start from 15 March.[32]

During the pandemic, the Welsh government messaging and laws have been distinct from the UK government's actions in England; this has made the Welsh public more conscious about devolution.[33] The Welsh government only let businesses access the Economic Resilience Fund devolved to them by Westminster if they officially recognised a trade union so they could recruit in those workplaces.[34] The Welsh government announced a two-week lockdown to reduce the prevalence of the virus – called a "firebreak" – in line with the other devolved administrations and distinct from the UK government's lockdown in England.[35]

On 11 December 2020, Plaid Cymru announced that they would hold a referendum on Welsh independence within five years if they won a majority.[36] Despite being a unionist party, Labour has selected three candidates who support independence.[37]

On 3 February 2021, UKIP leader Neil Hamilton stated that the party would pledge to deliver a referendum on the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.[38] He later told BBC Radio Wales: "UKIP had its founding principle in getting out of the European Union and now we've done that we can concentrate on reintegrating the United Kingdom... Our slogan in this election is 'scrap the Senedd'."[39]

On 7 March 2021, the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party announced that it would be running candidates in all constituencies in the election, and also said that it would run candidates on the regional list.[40] On 6 April, BBC News reported that Gareth Bennett would not stand for Abolish, with Bennett coming to a mutual agreement with the party to stand as an independent in Cynon Valley whilst still remaining supportive of the party, a decision which left Mark Reckless as the party's only MS.[41] The same day, it was reported that ten prospective candidates for Abolish had also "dropped out" with leader Richard Suchorzewski claiming it was due to, "Welsh Nationalist abuse and fear of reprisals."[42]

On 16 April, it was reported that of the 70,000 16 and 17-year-olds eligible to vote, less than 9,000 were currently registered in six counties, according to figures collected by the Election Reform Society (ERS). The deadline to register to vote was Monday 19 April 2021.[43] Figures later compiled by the BBC suggested around 46% of eligible people in this age group were registered to vote by the deadline.[44]

2021 Senedd election Background articles: 36

Retiring members

The following MSs did not run for re-election:

Constituency/Region Departing MS Party
Bridgend Carwyn Jones[45] Labour
South Wales Central David Melding[46] Conservatives
Dwyfor Meirionnydd Dafydd Elis-Thomas[47] Independent (elected as Plaid Cymru)
Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Angela Burns[48] Conservatives
South Wales West Bethan Sayed[49] Plaid Cymru
Brecon and Radnorshire Kirsty Williams[50] Liberal Democrats
South Wales West Suzy Davies[51] Conservatives
Vale of Clwyd Ann Jones[52] Labour

2021 Senedd election Retiring members articles: 13


Contesting constituency and regional ballots

Labour, Plaid Cymru, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Reform UK stood in all 40 constituencies and all five regional ballots.[53] Five other parties contested all five regions and at least one constituency: Abolish the Welsh Assembly (23 constituencies), UKIP (14 constituencies), Gwlad (14 constituencies), Welsh Green Party (13 constituencies) and Propel (11 constituencies). Llais Gwynedd and Socialist Party of Great Britain stood in Dwyfor Meirionnydd and Cardiff Central respectively. Neither party stood in any regional races. Two parties contested some of the regions and at least one constituency: Freedom Alliance (3 regions and 13 constituencies) and No More Lockdowns (2 regions and 1 constituency).

Parties with representation in the Senedd prior to the election

Name Leader(s) 2016 result Seats at dissolution
Votes (%) Seats
Regional Constituency
Labour Mark Drakeford
MS for Cardiff West
31.5% 34.7%
29 / 60
29 / 60
Plaid Cymru Adam Price
MS for Camarthen East and Dinefwr
20.8% 20.5%
12 / 60
10 / 60
Conservatives Andrew RT Davies
MS for South Wales Central
18.8% 21.1%
11 / 60
10 / 60
UKIP Wales Neil Hamilton
MS for Mid and West Wales (until 6 May 2021)
13.0% 12.5%
7 / 60
1 / 60
Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds
MS for Mid and West Wales (after 6 May 2021)
6.5% 7.7%
1 / 60
1 / 60
Abolish the Welsh Assembly Richard Suchorzewski
Not an MS
0 / 60
1 / 60
Propel Neil McEvoy
MS for South Wales Central (until 6 May 2021)
0 / 60
1 / 60

The five remaining seats were occupied by those independent of political parties.

Other parties contesting all or some regions and all or some constituencies

Name Leader(s) 2016 result Outgoing seats
Votes (%) Seats
Regional Constituency
Green Anthony Slaughter
Not an MS
3.0 2.5
0 / 60
0 / 60
Gwlad Gwyn Wigley Evans
Not an MS
Did not exist
0 / 60
Reform UK Wales Nathan Gill
Not an MS
Did not exist
0 / 60
Freedom Alliance Carol Dobson
Not an MS
Did not exist
0 / 60

Contesting regional ballot only

Some parties opted to only contest the regional lists. Two parties – Communist Party of Great Britain and TUSC – contested all five electoral regions. The Welsh Christian Party and the Workers Party of Britain both stood in only one region.

Name Leader(s) 2016 result Outgoing seats
Votes (%) Seats
Regional Constituency
Welsh Communist Party Robert David Griffiths
Not an MS
0 / 60
0 / 60
TUSC Wales Dave Nellist
Not an MS
0 / 60
0 / 60
Welsh Christian Jeff Green
Not an MS
0 / 60
0 / 60

2021 Senedd election Parties articles: 18


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, campaigning took into account health issues. Restrictions were placed on the ability of campaigners to carry out door-to-door campaigning. Campaign rallies were not possible, which affected the impact of candidates who normally do well at these events.[54]

Mark Drakeford was criticised for publishing a leaflet in the English language, without a bilingual one.[55] Joel Williams, Conservative candidate for Cardiff North, got the name of his own constituency wrong on a campaign leaflet.[56] Dwyfor Meirionydd Conservative candidate, Charlie Evans, had to apologise for a tweet praising Llyn Tryweryn,[57] the lake which was created to provide water for Liverpool, immortalised with the slogan Cofiwch Dryweryn.

After the death of Prince Philip on 9 April 2021, all of the main political parties suspended campaigning as a mark of respect. Labour and Plaid Cymru restarted their campaigns three days later.[58]

Election debates

2021 Senedd election debates
Date scheduled Organisers Moderator(s)  P  Present[a]    S  Surrogate[b]    NI  Not invited   A  Absent invitee 
Labour Plaid Cymru Conservatives Lib Dems Abolish Green UKIP Reform UK Audience Ref.
18 April ITV Adrian Masters P
NI NI NI NI NI Virtual [59][60]
29 April BBC Bethan Rhys Roberts P
Virtual [61][62]
Nick Servini P
Virtual [63][64]
3 May S4C - Pawb a'i Farn Betsan Powys S
Dafydd Davies
NI NI NI NI NI Virtual [65][66]
4 May Walesonline Ruth Mosalski P
NI NI NI NI NI Virtual

2021 Senedd election Campaign articles: 13

Constituency nominations

NB: MSs in office (i.e. incumbents) before the election are bolded. Winners are highlighted with party colours.

Constituency Labour Plaid Cymru Conservatives Liberal Democrats Abolish the Welsh Assembly Green[67] UKIP Reform UK Others and independents
Aberavon[68] David Rees Victoria Griffiths Liz Hill O'Shea[69] Helen Clarke Sarah Allen Tim Jenkins Dennis May Ceri Golding (Gwlad)
Scott Jones (IND)
Aberconwy[70] Dawn McGuinness[71] Aaron Wynne Janet Finch-Saunders Rhys Jones[72] Rachel Bagshaw Sharon Smith (No More Lockdowns)
Alyn and Deeside[73] Jack Sargeant Jack Morris Abigail Mainon[74] Chris Twells[75] Felix Aubel[76] Richard Purviss Lien Davies (Freedom Alliance)
Arfon[77] Iwan Wyn Jones[78] Siân Gwenllian Tony Thomas[79] Calum Davies[80] Andrew Haigh Martin Bristow
Blaenau Gwent[81] Alun Davies Peredur Owen Griffiths[82] Edward Dawson[83] Paula Yates Richard Taylor Robert Beavis Mandy Moore (IND)
Brecon and Radnorshire[84] Gethin Jones Grenville Ham James Evans William Powell Claire Mills[85] Emily Durrant John Muir Sam Holwill (Gwlad)

Karen Laurie-Parry (IND)

Bridgend[86] Sarah Murphy[87] Leanne Lewis Rachel Nugent-Finn Harvey Jones[88] Christine Roach Steven Bletsoe (IND)
Caroline Jones (IND)[89]
Geraint Jones (Gwlad)
Caerphilly[90] Hefin David Delyth Jewell[c] Steven Mayfield[91] Steve Aicheler Steve Jones[92] Tim Price
Cardiff Central[93] Jenny Rathbone Wiliam Rees Calum Davies[94] Rodney Berman[95] Munawar Mughal[40] Ceri Davies[96] Julian Bosley Clem Thomas (Gwlad)

Brian Johnson (Socialist Party of Great Britain)

Thomas Franklin (Freedom Alliance)

Cardiff North[97] Julie Morgan Fflur Elin Joel Williams Rhys Taylor Lawrence Gwynn[40] Debra Cooper[98] Haydn Rushworth Akil Kata (Propel)
Virginia Kemp (Freedom Alliance)
Cardiff South and Penarth[99] Vaughan Gething Nasir Adam[100] Leighton Rowlands[101] Alex Wilson[102] Lisa Peregrine[40] Helen Westhead[103] Paul Campbell Alan Pick Angus Hawkins (Gwlad)

Alan Golding (Freedom Alliance)

Matt Friend (Propel)

David Rolfe (IND)

Cardiff West[104] Mark Drakeford Rhys ab Owen[105] Sean Driscoll[106] Heath Marshall[107] Lee Canning[108] David Griffin[109] Nick Mullins Neil McEvoy (Propel)[c]Captain Beany (IND)
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr[110] Rob James[111] Adam Price Havard Hughes[112] Monica M French Karl Pollard
Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire[113] Riaz Hassan Cefin Campbell[114] Samuel Kurtz[115] Alistair Cameron[116] Paul Dowson[117] Peter Prosser Jon Harvey (IND)
Ceredigion[118] Dylan Lewis-Rowlands Elin Jones Amanda Jenner[119] Cadan ap Tomos[120] Harry Hayfield[121] Gethin James Stephanie Evans (Freedom Alliance)
Clwyd South[122] Ken Skates Llyr Gruffydd[c] Barbara Hughes Leena Farhat Jonathon Harrington[123] Jeanette Barton Mandy Jones[c]
Clwyd West[124] Joshua Hurst[125] Elin Walker Jones Darren Millar David Wilkins[126] Euan Mcgivern Jeanie Barton Clare Eno Rhydian Hughes (Gwlad)
Cynon Valley[127] Vikki Howells Geraint Benney Mia Rees[128] Gerald Francis Martyn Ford Peter Hopkins Gareth Bennett (IND)[c][129]
Vicky Jenkins (Propel)
Delyn[130] Hannah Blythyn Paul Rowlinson Mark Isherwood[c][115] Andrew Parkhurst[75] Mary Davies[131] Aiden Down Anthony Williams (Gwlad)
Dwyfor Meirionnydd[132] Cian Ireland Mabon ap Gwynfor[133] Charlie Evans[134] Stephen Churchman Louise Hughes Glyn Daniels (Llais Gwynedd)
Michelle Murray (Freedom Alliance)
Peter Read (Propel)
Gower[135] Rebecca Evans John Davies Myles Langstone[136] Michael Sheehan Anna Pigott[121] Byron John David Erasmus (Gwlad)
Islwyn[137] Rhianon Passmore Rhys Mills[138] Gavin Chambers[139] Oliver Townsend Mike Ford[92] Neil Hamilton[c] James Wells Kevin Etheridge (IND)[140]
Llanelli[141] Lee Waters Helen Mary Jones[c][142] Stefan Ryszewski[143] Jon Burree Howard Lillyman[144] Gareth Beer Sian Caiach (Gwlad)

Shahana Najmi (IND)

Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney[145] Dawn Bowden Ian Gwynne[146] Donna Gavin[147] Jez Becker Hugh Moelwyn Hughes[92] George Pykov Colin Jones
Monmouth[148] Catrin Maby Hugh Kocan Peter Fox[149] Jo Watkins[150] Mark Reckless[c] Ian Chandler[121] Susan Boucher Laurence Williams (Gwlad)
Nick Ramsay (IND)[151][152]
Elspeth Hill (Freedom Alliance)
Montgomeryshire[153] Kait Duerden Elwyn Vaughan Russell George Alison Alexander Oliver Lewis Gwyn Evans (Gwlad)
Neath[154] Jeremy Miles Sioned Williams Mathew Williams[155] Iain Clamp Simon Rees Megan Poppy Lloyd Andrew Pryer James Henton (Propel)
Newport East[156] John Griffiths Daniel Llewellyn Gareth Rhys Hughes[157] Mike Hamilton[158] Rob Steed[92] Ben Walker David Rowlands[c] Sonya Cary (Freedom Alliance)
Newport West[159] Jayne Bryant Jonathan Clark Michael Enea[160] John Miller[161] Amelia Womack[121] Kevin Boucher Steve Marsh (Freedom Alliance)
Ogmore[162] Huw Irranca-Davies Luke Fletcher[163] Nathan Adams[164] Cameron Shippam Robin Hunter-Clarke Glenda Davies Tim Thomas (Propel)
Pontypridd[165] Mick Antoniw Heledd Fychan[166] Joel James[167] Steven Rajam[168] Mike Hughes[40] Ken Barker[169] Jamie Jenkins Wanye Owen (IND)
Preseli Pembrokeshire[170] Jackie Jones[171] Cris Tomos[172] Paul Davies Tina Roberts[173] William Dennison
Rhondda[174] Buffy Williams[175] Leanne Wood Thomas Parkhilll Jackie Charlton Ian McLean[40] Steve Bayliss Jeff Gregory (Propel)
Stephen Phillips (Freedom Alliance)
Swansea East[176] Mike Hedges Rhiannon Barrar[177] Cameron Brennan[178] Sam Bennett Cameron Edwards[179] Dan Morgan Darren Rees
Swansea West[180] Julie James Dai Lloyd[c] Samantha Chohan[181] Chloe Hutchinson James Cole[179] Chris Evans[121] Bernard Holton Michelle Valerio (Freedom Alliance)

Katon Bouzalakos (Propel)

Torfaen[182] Lynne Neagle Lyn Ackerman Gruff Parry Veronica German[183] Tom Harrison Ian Williams Ryan Williams (Gwlad)

Matthew Ross-Francome (Freedom Alliance)

Vale of Clwyd[184] Jason McLellan Glenn Swingler Gareth Davies Lisa Davies[185] Peter Dain David Thomas (IND)
Vale of Glamorgan[186] Jane Hutt Richard Grigg Matt Smith Sally Stephenson[187] Stuart Field[40] Anthony Slaughter[188] Michael Hancock Karl-James Langford (Gwlad)

Alan Coulthard (IND)

Neill Shah (Freedom Alliance)

Janet Brocklehurst (Propel)

Wrexham[189] Lesley Griffiths Carrie Harper Jeremy Kent Tim Sly Paul Ashton Sebastian Ross[190] Charles Dodman Aaron Norton (Gwlad)
Ynys Môn[191] Samantha Egelstaff Rhun ap Iorwerth Lyn Hudson[192] Chris Jones Emmett Jenner

2021 Senedd election Constituency nominations articles: 92