The people of Wales have voted overwhelmingly for extra powers for the Welsh Assembly after taking part in a referendum.
Voters were asked whether they wanted the Assembly to have primary legislative powers in Wales and the result was emphatic with 63.5% of voters saying yes compared to only 35.5% against.
Currently, the Welsh Government has to apply to Westminster for a Legislative Competence Order (LCO) in order for a law to come into effect. This will now change after 517,132 people made their views clear through the democratic process.
The campaign chairman of ‘Say Yes For Wales’ Roger Lewis, said he was delighted with the result.
Mr Lewis said: “It is clear, the people of Wales have spoken.”
First Minister Carwyn Jones joined Mr Lewis in welcoming the result.
Mr Jones said: “This is a historic day for Wales. It is a clear and concise Yes vote across whole of Wales from the coast to the border.” He added: “Today an old nation came of age.” The Welsh First Minister then criticised what he described as “abysmal” coverage of the campaign “from the UK media”.
Deputy First Minister and Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said it marked “the beginning of a new era of Welsh devolution – the decade to deliver for Wales”.
“To demand respect, you must first display self respect,” he said. “Today we have done just that, and the rest of the world can now sit up and take notice of the fact that our small nation, here on the western edge of the continent of Europe, has demonstrated pride in who we are, and what we all stand for.”
Welcoming the Yes vote Scotland’s First Minister and Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond congratulated the people of Wales, and also contrasted the joint position of the Labour, Lib Dem and Tory parties in Wales in supporting a referendum and campaigning for more powers for the National Assembly, with the stance of these same parties in combining to block a referendum on financial powers and independence for the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Salmond said:
“I congratulate the people of Wales on their decision to move the powers of the National Assembly forward – it is a great result for the people and for the party of Wales, Plaid Cymru. The Yes vote will ensure that the National Assembly is far more responsive to the needs and ambitions that the Welsh people have for their nation.
“The referendum result also highlights the hypocrisy of the London parties – the Tories, Lib Dems, and Labour – who all supported a referendum in Wales and all campaigned for more powers, yet blocked the right of the Scottish people to choose financial responsibility and independence for Scotland.
“A re-elected SNP government in May will be in a powerful position to secure passage of a referendum, having successfully mobilised the people over the blocking tactics of the London parties.”
The results from the 22 county areas were declared at the Senedd (Welsh Assembly) in Cardiff. Turnout is thought to have been around 35% and 21 of the 22 Welsh counties voted Yes with only Monmouthshire voting No by only 320 votes.
In Blaenau Gwent voters said Yes by roughly two to one while in Denbighshire the Yes camp also triumphed strongly. It was closer in Newport, Pembrokeshire and Powys but the Yes vote prevailed.
In Merthyr Tydfil the Yes won by more than two to one, bizarrely though a recount was carried out.
The result in some areas was in contrast to the last referendum. Blaenau and Denbighshire voted in favour of giving the Assembly primary law-making powers despite voting against devolution in 1997.