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National Assembly for Wales: Public Attitudes 2008

Executive Summary

Introduction

The Government of Wales Act 2006 represents the most significant transfer of powers to Wales in its history.

The Act carries significant implications for:

  • the Assembly’s legislative status;

  • the scrutiny of Government;

  • ownership of the Welsh political agenda;

  • the public’s perception of the Assembly;

  • the international community’s perception of the Assembly;

  • and the Welsh electorate’s future relationship with devolution.

This document reports on research conducted by the Institute of Welsh Politics and GfK NOP on behalf of the National Assembly for Wales Commission (Assembly Commission) over the period April to October 2008 aimed at gaining a better understanding about public attitudes to devolution in Wales.

In particular, the research sought to:

  • investigate levels of interest and public knowledge about the powers of the National Assembly for Wales;

  • gain a better understanding of attitudes towards the preferred constitutional status of the Assembly; and

  • glean a better understanding of the main sources of public information used by Welsh citizens related to politics.  

The attitudinal patterns deciphered from the findings will inform the direction, prioritisation, organisation and performance of the Assembly Commission’s communications activity for the third Assembly term.

Findings 1: public attitudes towards Assembly powers

On public attitudes to Assembly powers, the research confirmed the findings of other recent research in finding that public opposition to devolution continues to decline. The research also found a substantial degree of homogeneity in public attitudes across the different regions of Wales, contrary to common perceptions that support for the Assembly is entrenched in the West, and possibly along the Western M4 corridor, and that there is a greater sense of antipathy in east Wales.

Findings 2: public interest in politics and knowledge about the Assembly

The research found a reasonable level of public interest in politics, and in the National Assembly for Wales. On knowledge, the research found that while a clear majority of the Welsh people appear to understand the broad parameters of devolved governance, and of the specifics in areas like Education where it is likely to have some direct impact on their lives, in other respects public knowledge is clearly deficient. In particular, there appears little public understanding of the distinction between the National Assembly and the Welsh Assembly Government.

Findings 3: sources of information about politics in Wales

The research found that the main source of public information about politics in Wales remains television news. However, a variety of types of sources are of importance and potential impact. In particular, it is worth noting the importance of localised news outlets as a source of information about Welsh politics throughout the Welsh electoral regions.

Overall, the survey provides the Assembly Commission with a greater sense of the Welsh electorate’s perceptions about its current and future powers, and the media which inform those perceptions.    

The remainder of this report presents and analyses the results on:

  • Public Attitudes to Devolution;

  • Interest and Public Knowledge of politics in Wales; and

  • Sources of public information about news and politics used by Welsh citizens.

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Other Sections:

1. Scope of the Research

2. Conduct of the Survey

3. Public Attitudes towards the National Assembly and Devolution

4. Levels of Public Interest in, and Knowledge of, the National Assembly and Devolution

5. Sources of Public Knowledge and Information

6. Conclusions

 

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