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A map showing the result of the referendum by unitary authority.
Key:
     Yes vote      No vote

The Welsh referendum of 1997 was a pre-legislative referendum held in Wales only over whether there was support for the creation of an assembly for Wales. Unlike the referendum in Scotland, there was no proposal for the assembly to have tax varying powers. The referendum was a manifesto commitment of the Labour Party and was held in their first term after the United Kingdom general election, 1997. This was the second referendum held in Wales over the question of devolution, the first being the Wales referendum, 1979.

A map showing the strength of the 'Yes' votes cast in the referendum by unitary authority.
Key:
     30.1-39.9% of vote      40.1-49.9% of vote      50.1-59.9% of vote      60.1%+ of vote

One of the factors that made the referendum controversial was that Wales has a much greater immigrant and transient population than Scotland. A previous referendum on devolution, held in 1979, had resulted in a majority against, whereas in Scotland the vote had been in favour. It was generally believed that the Labour government scheduled the referendum as it did because it foresaw the embarrassment of a defeat, and therefore arranged for the Scotland referendum to be held slightly earlier, in the hope that the anticipated result would influence the Welsh result.

Contents

Party support

Welsh Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats campaigned for the 'Yes' vote. The Conservative party was the only major party to support the 'No' vote.

A map showing the strength of the 'No' votes cast in the referendum by unitary authority.
Key:
     30.1-39.9% of vote      40.1-49.9% of vote      50.1-59.9% of vote      60.1%+ of vote

Results

The referendum was held on 18 September 1997, a week after the referendum in Scotland. In the end, the result was extremely close, and everything hung on voting figures for the last unitary authority (Carmarthenshire) to be announced, which carried the "Yes" vote.

The electorate were asked to indicate whether:
'1. I agree that there should be a Welsh Assembly; or
2. I do not agree that there should be a Welsh Assembly.'

Option 1 votes Option 1 votes (%) Option 2 votes Option 2 (%) Turnout (%)
559,419 50.3 552,698 49.7 50.1
Unitary authority Yes vote (%) No vote (%)
Anglesey 50.9% 49.1%
Blaenau Gwent 56.1% 43.9%
Bridgend 54.4% 45.6%
Caerphilly 55.7% 44.3%
Cardiff 44.4% 55.6%
Carmarthenshire 65.5% 34.5%
Ceredigion 59.2% 40.8%
Conwy 40.9% 59.1%
Denbighshire 40.5% 59.5%
Flintshire 38.2% 62.8%
Gwynedd 64.1% 35.9%
Merthyr Tydfil 58.2% 41.8%
Monmouthshire 32.1% 67.9%
Neath Port Talbot 66.5% 33.5%
Newport 37.5% 62.5%
Pembrokeshire 42.8% 57.2%
Powys 42.7% 57.3%
Rhondda Cynon Taff 58.5% 41.5%
Swansea 53.0% 47.0%
Torfaen 49.8% 50.2%
Vale of Glamorgan 35.5% 64.5%
Wrexham 44.3% 55.7%

Government response

In response to the majority voting for Yes, the government passed the Government of Wales Act 1998, creating the Welsh Assembly.

See also

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