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  • Writer's pictureThe Youth Vote UK

The Senedd elections 2021: A Breakdown

On the 6th May 2021, the Welsh Parliament elections took place. The Labour Party retained power of the Senedd for another five years after winning 30 seats, one more than achieved in 2016.

How the Election Worked

The Senedd is made up of 60 Members of the Senedd (MSs), 40 of whom represent individual constituencies. Another 20 represent the five regions of Wales:

  • South Wales East

  • South Wales Central

  • South Wales West

  • Mid and West Wales

  • North Wales

Each region has four MSs.

Voters got two votes. One for their constituency MS and one for a party to represent their region.


The Labour Party won 30 seats which is just one short of a majority, but is a victory nonetheless. The Conservative Party became the second biggest party in Welsh Parliament with 16 seats whilst Plaid Cymru slipped down to third with 13 seats. The Liberal Democrats were only about to get one seat in the Senedd. In comparison to the 2016 election, UKIP lost all 7 of their seats.

In comparison to the 2016 Senedd Election, there was not much change. Labour gained one more seat but still fell one seat short of an overall majority. The Conservatives made the biggest gains by taking 5 more seats than 2016. This is their biggest gain since the establishment of the Senedd. Although Plaid Cymru gained one more seat than in 2016, they are only the third biggest party in Welsh Parliament.


Almost 2.4 million people in Wales were eligible to vote in the Senedd election. Unfortunately, for the sixth time in a row, the majority of Welsh people chose not to vote. It has never been above 50% for all of the six previous elections. In contrast, the average turnout for general elections since 2001 is 64.9%. So, appetite to vote in Senedd elections is not quite there. However, this election saw a record 1.1 million (47%) people vote, so hopefully appetite continues to grow.

This was the first Senedd election in which 16 and 17-year-olds had the right to vote. This could have been why there was a record turnout. However, according to the BBC, less than half of 16 and 17-year-olds registered to vote. Out of an estimated 65,000 16 and 17-year-olds in the 21 council areas, only 30,349 registered to vote. Therefore, 54% or 35,051 did not have their say.

Source: Welsh Local Authorities, Statswales (2021)

Vale of Glamorgan has the highest percentage of registered 16 and 17-year olds, while Swansea has the lowest. Despite this, a poll by Electoral Reform Society and YouGov suggests that 69% of 16 to 24-year-olds thought the Senedd elections were important. Hopefully in the future turnout continues to increase, especially if more young people register and use their right to vote.

Matthew Esam, Policy & News Associate

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