First Minister of Wales

The First Minister of Wales (Welsh: Prif Weinidog Cymru) is the leader of the Welsh Government, Wales' devolved administration. The First Minister is responsible for the exercise of functions by the Cabinet of the Welsh Government; policy development and coordination; relationships with the rest of the United Kingdom, Europe and the wider world.

First Minister of Wales
Prif Weinidog Cymru
Mark Drakeford

since 13 December 2018
StyleThe Right Honourable
NominatorNational Assembly for Wales
AppointerThe Monarch
Term lengthWhile commanding the confidence of the National Assembly for Wales
Inaugural holderAlun Michael (as Assembly First Secretary)
Formation12 May 1999
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The official office of the First Minister is in Tŷ Hywel, previously known as Crickhowell House, and the Senedd in Cardiff Bay. An office is also kept at the Crown Buildings, Cathays Park, Cardiff.


When initially set up under the Government of Wales Act 1998, Section 53(1), the post was known as Assembly First Secretary (in Welsh Prif Ysgrifennydd y Cynulliad), as Wales was given a less powerful assembly and executive than either Northern Ireland or Scotland. The choice of title was also attributed to the fact that the Welsh term for First Minister, Prif Weinidog, may also be translated as Prime Minister, so a different title was chosen to avoid confusion with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The change of title occurred after the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition government with Labour in the Welsh Assembly in October 2000. The Government of Wales Act 2006 allowed for the post to be officially known as the First Minister and also made the First Minister Keeper of the Welsh Seal.

Nomination & appointment

Candidates for the position of First Minister are nominated by the members of the National Assembly for Wales. The members elect the nominee for the First Minister by majority vote. If no one is elected by a majority of votes cast with the first set of nominations, the process continues until a majority decide to cast their vote for one candidate. This process does not require an absolute majority of the National Assembly (currently 31 out of 60 members)

Once this process has occurred the Presiding Officer shall formally send a letter to the reigning Monarch who must then appoint that nominee to the position of First Minister.[1]


Under the arrangements in the Government of Wales Act 1998, executive functions are conferred on the National Assembly for Wales and then separately delegated to the First Minister and to other Cabinet Ministers and staff as appropriate.

Until the Government of Wales Act 2006, these were delegated powers of the UK government. Since that Act came into force in May 2007, however, the First Minister is appointed by the monarch and represents the Crown in Wales. Whilst this has little practical difference, it was a huge symbolic shift as for the first time the head of government in Wales is appointed by the Crown on the advice of the elected representatives of the Welsh people.

The First Minister appoints the Welsh Ministers, Deputy Welsh Ministers and the Counsel General for Wales (collectively known as the Welsh Government), with the approval of Her Majesty.

Following separation between the legislative and the executive on the enactment of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (upon appointment of the First Minister, 25 May 2007), the Welsh Ministers exercise functions in their own right. Any further transfers of executive functions from the UK Government will be made directly to the Welsh Ministers (with their consent) by an Order in Council approved by Parliament.

The First Minister is accountable and responsible for:

  • Exercise of functions by the Cabinet of the Welsh Government.
  • Policy development and coordination of policy.
  • The relationships with the rest of the United Kingdom, Europe and Wales Abroad.
  • Staffing/Civil Service

List of First Secretaries and First Ministers

No. Portrait Name
Term of office Political party Elected Government Deputy
1 Alun Michael
AM for Mid and West Wales
As First Secretary
12 May
9 February
Labour 1999 Michael
Lab (minority)
2 Rhodri Morgan
AM for Cardiff West
Office renamed First Minister on 16 October 2000
9 February
9 December
Labour Interim Morgan
Lab (minority)
1st Morgan
Mike German (LD)
2000–01 and 2002-03

Jenny Randerson
2001–02 (acting)

2003 2nd Morgan
Lab (minority)
2007 3rd Morgan
Lab (minority)
4th Morgan
Ieuan Wyn Jones
(Plaid Cymru)
3 Carwyn Jones
AM for Bridgend
9 December
12 December
2018 [2]
Labour 1st Jones
2011 2nd Jones
Lab (minority)
2016 3rd Jones
LabLD - Ind
4 Mark Drakeford
AM for Cardiff West
13 December
Incumbent Labour Drakeford
LabLD - Ind


Previous nominations


2018 Nomination of First Minister
Date: 12 December 2018
Candidate Votes
Mark Drakeford
30 / 56
Paul Davies
12 / 56
Adam Price
(Plaid Cymru)
9 / 56
5 / 56
Source: National Assembly[3]


2016 Nomination of First Minister
Date: 11 May 2016
Candidate Votes
Carwyn Jones
29 / 58
Leanne Wood[lower-alpha 1]
(Plaid Cymru)
29 / 58
0 / 56
Source: National Assembly[5]

See also


  1. "Appointing a new First Minister". National Assembly for Wales. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  3. "Agenda for Plenary on Wednesday, 12 December 2018, 13.30". 12 December 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  4. "Agenda for Plenary on Wednesday, 18 May 2016, 13.30". 18 May 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  5. "Agenda for Plenary on Wednesday, 11 May 2016, 13.30". 11 May 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2019.


  1. later withdrew on the 18 May 2016[4]
  • Dates are from World Statesmen and various BBC News Online articles from 1999 to 2003.
  • Roles and Responsibilities.
  • Welsh Government: Cabinet and ministers.
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