Helping you understand Welsh law

Who can stand for election?

Local government elections

Qualification for standing for election

Section 79 of the Local Government Act 2000 provides that to be eligible to stand for election at a Welsh local government election you must:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • be a British citizen, an eligible Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of any member state of the European Union, and
  • meet at least one of the following requirements:

    a. You are, and will continue to be, registered as a local government elector for the local authority area in which you wish to stand from the day of your nomination onwards.
    b. You have occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in the local authority area during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election.
    c. Your main or only place of work during the 12 months prior to the day of your nomination and the day of election has been in the local authority area.
    d. You have lived in the local authority area during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election.
    e.  In the case of a member of a community council, you have lived in the community for the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election or have lived within three miles of it.

Disqualifications from standing for election

Apart from meeting these general requirements for standing for election, you must also not be disqualified from standing on the day of your nomination and on polling day.

Section 80 of the Local Government Act 2000 provides that you cannot be a candidate if at the time of your nomination and on polling day:

a. You are employed by the local authority or hold a paid office (subject to some exceptions such as being the executive leader or member) under the authority (including joint boards or committees).
b. You are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order or a debt relief order restrictions order or interim debt relief restrictions order.
c. You have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months or more (including a suspended sentence), without the option of a fine, during the five years before polling day.
d. You have been disqualified under Part III the Representation of the People Act 1983 (for example if you have been found guilty of  corrupt or illegal electoral practices or offences relating to donations).  For more information about corrupt and illegal practices, please click on the link on the right.

Validity of acts done when disqualified/not qualified to stand for election

Section 82 of the Local Government Act 1972 provides that any acts or proceedings of a person elected as a local government member are not invalidated by reason of their disqualification or lack of qualification.  

False statements about qualification to stand for election

You must be sure that you are not disqualified from standing because you will be asked to sign nomination papers confirming this and it is a criminal offence to make a false statement on your nomination papers.  Section 65A of the Representation of the People Act 1983 provides that a person is guilty of a corrupt practice if they knowingly make a false statement about their entitlement to be qualified to be elected (which encompasses confirming that they are not disqualified).  For more information about corrupt and illegal practices, please click on the link on the right.  

Guidance by the Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission provides useful guidance in relation to this issue:

As this guidance notes, this area of law is complex and the information provided on these pages is only an overview.

Elections to the National Assembly for Wales

General requirements for standing

There are a total of 60 Members in the National Assembly for Wales. 40 of these are constituency Assembly Members, representing the same local constituencies as members of the House of Commons whilst the other 20 are regional Assembly Members, who represent one of the five regions of Wales.

You can be a candidate for both a constituency and a region, as long as the constituency is within that region. If you do so however, you must stand for the same party in both contests, or be an independent in both. If you are elected at the constituency election, your name will be disregarded at the allocation of regional seats.

You cannot however stand in more than one constituency or in more than one region.

To be able to stand as a constituency or regional candidate for the National Assembly for Wales you must, on the day you are nominated and on polling day, be:

  • at least 18 years old, and
  • a British citizen, an eligible Commonwealth citizen or, currently, a citizen of any other member state of the European Union.
    Apart from meeting these general requirements for standing for election, you must also not be disqualified from standing on the day of your nomination and on polling day.

Specific disqualifications from standing

Section 16 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 provides that you are disqualified from being an Assembly member if:

a. you are an MP (but see sections 17A and 17B of the Government of Wales Act 2006 for some limited exceptions from this)

b. you are disqualified from being an MP under paragraphs (a) to (e) of section 1(1) of the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 (judges, civil servants, members of the armed forces, members of police forces, members of foreign legislatures)

c. you hold any of the offices designated by Order in Council as one which will disqualify you from being an Assembly member

d. you hold the office of Auditor General

e. you are employed as a member of the staff of the Assembly

Section 16(2) also provides that you will be disqualified from becoming an Assembly Member if you are also disqualified from membership of the House of Commons other than under the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 (i.e. by virtue of the common law or other statutory disqualification criteria).  This includes:

  • Persons under the age of 18 who are disqualified by virtue of section 17(1) of the Electoral Administration Act 2006.
  • Aliens who are disqualified at common law and by virtue of the Act of Settlement 1700, section 3, as amended. Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizens are not regarded as aliens for this purpose nor are citizens of the European Union who are resident in the UK .  
  • Persons guilty of corrupt or illegal practices who are disqualified under the Representation of the People Act 1983.
  • Persons who are subject to a bankruptcy restrictions order or debt relief order under section 426A of the Insolvency Act 1986.
  • Convicted prisoners serving a sentence of more than one year’s detention (or an indefinite sentence) in the UK or Ireland, who are disqualified by section 1(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1981.  Section 16(3) of the Government of Wales Act 2006 extends this disqualification to prisoners serving a sentence of more than one year’s detention in any EU member state.

Section 16(4) of the Government of Wales Act 2006 also provides that anyone who holds office as a Lord Lieutenant, Lieutenant or High Sheriff  of any area in Wales is disqualified from membership of the Assembly, but only for any constituency or electoral region wholly or partly included in that area.  

False statements about qualification to stand for election

You must be sure that you are not disqualified from standing because you will be asked to sign nomination papers confirming this and it is a criminal offence to make a false statement on your nomination papers.

  
Guidance by the Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission provides useful guidance in relation to this issue:

As this guidance notes, this area of law is complex and the information provided on these pages is only an overview.  

Future proposed reform in this area

The Assembly Commission have introduced a Bill before the Assembly which, amongst other things, seeks to make certain changes to the rules governing who can stand for election to the National Assembly and the timings around such disqualification (see the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill - Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill | National Assembly for Wales).  

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