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Understanding devolution in Wales
Understanding devolution in Wales

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3 Attitudes towards devolution

The 1997 vote on devolution was carried by the narrowest of margins, with 49.7% of voters rejecting the idea. However, soon after the vote, opposition to devolution fell to around 20% of Welsh voters and it has remained stable (Public Attitudes to Devolution in Wales, 2017).

In the interview at the beginning of this section, Professor Awan-Scully suggests that Welsh politicians are generally viewed as more interested in the problems affecting people in Wales, and that many people would like to see further powers devolved to Wales, although there is a lack of clarity as to what those powers should be.

In the early 2020s, there was some movement in attitudes to devolution. Support for Welsh independence began to increase slightly, following a period of instability at the UK level. At the same time, political parties with devo-sceptic or devo-hostile positions were gaining traction with Welsh voters.

  • What impact do you think pro-independence and devo-sceptic parties securing seats in the Senedd would have?

  • The impact of any political party depends very much on its discipline and the events of the day, but a pro-independence party with enough votes in the Senedd could prompt an independence referendum, as we saw in Scotland in 2012. A party opposed to devolution could block any measures to enhance or expand the powers of the Parliament, for example by voting down calls for more MSs.