Senedd Election 2021: Small Party Candidates
This year’s Senedd election will see a host of new party names on the ballot, alongside smaller parties that have been fielding candidates for several years. For the purpose of this article, smaller parties are those with either a small number of representatives in the Senedd or Westminster, or a smaller proportion of votes than the major parties.
The smaller political parties standing for election at the Senedd can be broadly divided into several categories: longstanding parties which field candidates across the country and can expect to see their deposit returned, such as the Wales Green Party and UKIP; and newly formed parties riding a political trend which may or may not live beyond the first year or so of a new Parliament, such as the Freedom Alliance.
In this election, we’re also seeing several offshoots from successful (or formerly successful) parties – former Plaid MS Neil McEvoy’s Propel, Reform UK (formerly The Brexit Party, Nigel Farage’s get-out from the increasingly extreme UKIP) and Abolish the Assembly (which stood in 2016 but so far has only secured MSs through defections from UKIP).
With a deposit of £500 to field a candidate, per seat, the cost for smaller parties to put forward candidates can quickly mount up – particularly if it is unlikely that those candidates will gain enough votes (5%) to see their deposit returned. Although the costs may reach into the £1000s, parties may stand a candidate to raise their profile – and standing a greater number of candidates forms part of this, as demonstrated by Abolish – or others may do so out of principle.
Looking at the data, the smallest political parties which will attract just a small proportion of votes are best represented at the regional level, with the Workers Party, Communist Party, Christian Party and TUSC all standing regional candidates but no constituency candidates. This is to be expected, as smaller parties which cannot compete with Labour, Plaid or the Welsh Conservatives at a constituency level may be hopeful that they can pick up a regional seat – as we are predicting will be the case for the likes of Abolish.
Bucking that trend is the pro-Welsh independence party Gwlad, which is fielding 14 constituency candidates and a full slate of 20 regional candidates, and the anti-lockdown Freedom Alliance, which is fielding 14 constituency candidates and 10 regional candidates. Unsurprisingly, neither party is being picked up in polls, but the latter party may be hoping to pick up some votes from those dissatisfied with ongoing restrictions.
Proportional representation in the Senedd elections has offered the opportunity for smaller parties to gain a voice in the Siambr, and the regional list in particular can serve the breadth and full spectrum of political interests. Although several of the smallest parties won’t be expecting a win on results day, voters will be presented with an extensive (and colourful) ballot from which to make their choice.
Take a look below to find out how many regional and constituency candidates all the parties are fielding in the Senedd Election.
For a bird's eye view.
Am olwg oddi uchod.
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