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Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 22:52 GMT 23:52 UK

End of first post-devolution election

The first general election post-devolution in Wales is drawing to a close after four weeks of campaigning.

For all the parties, apathy could be the biggest threat with voters appearing to be largely disinterested in an election campaign which has failed to take off.

However, in Wales there is one important factor - devolution.

The presence of the Welsh Assembly, set up two years ago, means that the electorate will have to rethink their calculations.

While overall financial and legislative control remains with Westminster, domestic issues like health, education and transport are now controlled from Cardiff Bay.

The unruly in the National Assembly may have been reined in by Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis-Thomas on outright electioneering inside the chamber.

Bu outside the confines of Cardiff Bay all things have been possible.

AMs have been joining in their respective party's campaigning with vigour.

In the case of Labour and the Liberal Democrats there have been moments, in their traditional strongholds, when it has not suited either of them to be reminded of their partnership in the coalition administration.

Political questions

All parties claim credit for Assembly successes, the most identifiable being the appointment of a Children's Commissioner.

But this is a UK election - and although this time more decisions will be made in Wales about the way the campaign is run, there have undoubtedly been tensions.

There have also been questions about the way UK leaders have promised policies in their manifestos which they cannot enforce as the assembly takes control of the powers in areas, including health and education.

Of course, there will be reminders of those key political questions before entering the confines of the polling booth: Who do you want to be Prime Minister? How much money do you want to go on public services? How much tax are you prepared to pay?

However, for all the parties in Wales this campaign has been as much about the next general election in Wales in 2003 as it has been about Westminster.



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