UKIP Is the Big Winner in Welsh Vote as Labour Limits Lossesby
Large Voice in Wales to Campaign for Brexit, Farage Says
Labour able to continue in power as minority government
The U.K. Independence Party emerged as the biggest winner from elections to the Welsh Assembly, demonstrating growing Euro-skepticism in the principality just seven weeks before Britain votes on whether to stay in the European Union.
UKIP won seven of the 60 seats in the legislature in Cardiff in Thursday’s voting, compared with none in the previous elections in 2011. It took 13 percent of the vote for regional representatives, up from less than 5 percent five years ago. While polls indicate big majorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland for staying in the EU, opinion in Wales is far more divided, reflecting the situation in England, the dominant part of the U.K.
“I am delighted at the significant breakthrough UKIP has made in Wales,” the party’s leader, Nigel Farage, said in an e-mailed statement. UKIP has a “now large voice in Wales to campaign for Brexit,” he said.
Britain’s main opposition Labour Party, which has run the semi-autonomous Welsh government since its inception in 1999, lost support but retained most of its seats. It won 29. That was two seats more than the final pre-election poll had projected, allowing it to avoid the need for a coalition.
“It’s important to recognize that with 29 you can have a minority government,” Edwina Hart, who was business minister in the Labour Welsh government before the election, told BBC Television. “You are able to govern as long as you get agreement on certain key issues around legislation and budget.”
Backing for Labour in the individual districts from which most Welsh lawmakers are elected dropped about 8 percentage points, according to results released Friday. The nationalist party, Plaid Cymru, also saw its support increase and it overtook the Conservatives to become the second-largest in the assembly with 12 seats. Plaid leader Leanne Wood won the Rhondda district in South Wales she was contesting from Labour -- the only one of 40 to change hands.