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Government of Wales Act 2006

General Elections

Section 3: Ordinary general elections

44.This section provides that Assembly ordinary general elections are to take place every four years, on the first Thursday in May, subject to a power under which the Secretary of State may change the date of an ordinary general election by order under section 4.

45.In advance of an ordinary general election the Assembly is to be dissolved a specified number of days before that Thursday. This number of days (“the minimum period”) will either be specified in an Order made by the Secretary of State under section 13, or calculated in accordance with rules set out in the Order. This is the minimum period to which subsection (3) refers.

46.The section also provides that the Assembly must meet within seven days after the day of the poll (excluding certain days such as Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays).

Section 4: Power to vary date of ordinary general election

47.This section allows the Secretary of State, by Order, to vary the date of an ordinary general election (i.e. one that is scheduled to occur on the first Thursday in May, every four years) by up to one month either way, if, for example, holding the general election on the first Thursday in May would mean it would coincide with some other important event. Such an Order must also make provision as to when the Assembly is to be dissolved in advance of the varied date of the election and for it to meet within seven days after the day of the poll, again excluding certain days from the calculation. The Order may also apply the Representation of the People Acts, or other legislation that applies to the election of Assembly Members, with any modifications that are necessary because of the change of the date of the general election.

48.Before making an Order under this section, the Secretary of State must first consult the Welsh Ministers and an Order must be laid before Parliament and is subject to being annulled by resolution of either House of Parliament.

Section 5: Extraordinary general elections

49.Section 5 provides a mechanism for an extraordinary general election to take place before the next scheduled ordinary general election in certain circumstances.

50.If the Assembly resolves that it should be dissolved (provided Assembly Members representing at least two-thirds of Assembly seats, i.e. 40 Assembly Members voted for the resolution), or if the Assembly fails to nominate an Assembly Member to be the First Minister within the period laid down by section 47 (usually 28 days), then the Secretary of State must propose a date for the holding of an extraordinary general election. Arrangements for the holding of the extraordinary general election are then to be made by Order in Council.

51.If an extraordinary general election is held less than six months before the date on which an ordinary general election would normally be held, that ordinary general election is not to be held. The date of subsequent ordinary general elections would not however be affected, i.e. they would still normally take place on the first Thursday in May at intervals of four years after that in which the ordinary general election which did not take place was due to have been held

Section 6: Voting at general elections

52.This section provides that persons voting in Assembly general elections can cast two votes. One vote (“the constituency vote”) may be cast for a named candidate to be the Assembly constituency member. The other (“the electoral region vote”) is for a registered political party which has put forward a list of candidates or for an individual candidate and, in either case, is for the purpose of electing the Assembly regional members for the region.

Section 7: Candidates at general elections

53.This section lays down rules in relation to entitlement to be a candidate for Assembly constituencies and electoral regions at a general election.

54.For example, a person may not be a candidate for more than one constituency. A person may not be included by a registered political party in its list of candidates for more than one electoral region. Nor may a person who is a candidate for any constituency be included in any of a party’s regional lists. Similarly, a person may not be an individual candidate for an electoral region if that person is also a candidate for any constituency or on any list of candidates submitted by any registered political party for any electoral region.

Sections 8 and 9: Calculation of Electoral Region Figures and Allocation of seats to electoral region members

55.These sections set out the method for determining the allocation of the four electoral region seats for each electoral region, using a “d’Hondt” calculation.

56.The starting point is the calculation, for each electoral region, of the initial “electoral region figure” for each registered political party and individual candidate. Section 8 explains how this is to be calculated.

57.In each Assembly region, the successful Assembly constituency members are to be identified before the electoral region figures are calculated. The electoral region figure is then calculated in each electoral region, for each registered political party that has submitted a list of candidates to be elected as the Assembly regional members in that region, by the following formula:




the total number of electoral region votes cast for that party across all the constituencies in that electoral region;



the total number of constituency seats won by that party in that electoral region; and



the electoral region figure.

58.For an individual electoral region candidate the electoral region figure is the total number of votes cast for that candidate.

59.The electoral region figures of all parties and of any individual regional candidates are compared. The first electoral region seat is allocated to the political party or individual regional candidate with the highest electoral region figure. The candidate elected is the one at the top of that party’s list.

60.If a seat is allocated to a party, its electoral region figure must be re-calculated by adding the seat allocated to figure B and dividing figure A by (new figure B + 1). This re-calculated electoral region figure then replaces that party’s initial electoral region figure.

61.The electoral region figures of all parties and of any individual regional candidates (other than an individual candidate to whom a seat has already been allocated) are then compared again and the next electoral region seat is allocated to the party or individual candidate with the highest electoral figure. In the case of a party the candidate elected is the one at the top of that party’s list, disregarding any candidate already elected. If a seat is allocated to a party, the electoral figure of that party is again re-calculated by adding a further seat to figure B, and re-applying the formula X = A/(B + 1).

62.The process is repeated until all four regional seats have been allocated.

63.If all the candidates on a political party’s regional list have been elected before all four regional seats have been filled, that party is disregarded in subsequently assessing which party or individual has the highest electoral region figure.

64.Provision is made for situations in which, at any comparison of electoral figures, the highest electoral figure is shared by two or more parties or individual candidates. If the number of unallocated seats is equal to or greater than the number of parties or individual candidates sharing the highest electoral figure then a seat is allocated to each. If not, the tie is to be broken, if possible, by increasing figure A by 1 and comparing the electoral figures again. If there are still two parties or individual candidates with equal electoral figures and not enough unallocated seats for all of them, the regional returning officer is to decide the matter by the drawing of lots.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


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