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First Minister of Wales
Flag of Wales.svg
First Minister of Wales logo.png
Vaughan Gething (cropped official portrait).jpg
Vaughan Gething

since 20 March 2024 (2024-03-20)
Welsh Government
Welsh Cabinet
Style First Minister
The Right Honourable
(UK and Commonwealth)
His Excellency
Abbreviation FM
Member of
Reports to Senedd
Seat Crown Buildings, Cathays Park, Cardiff
Nominator Senedd
Appointer The Monarch
Term length Five years
Formation 12 May 1999
First holder Alun Michael AM
Salary £148,575 per annum (2022) (including £67,920 MS salary)

The First Minister of Wales (Welsh: Prif Weinidog Cymru), known as First Secretary of Wales from 1999 until 2000, is the leader of the Welsh Government and keeper of the Welsh Seal. The first minister chairs the Welsh Cabinet and is primarily responsible for the formulation, development and presentation of Welsh Government policy. Additional functions of the first minister include promoting and representing Wales in an official capacity, at home and abroad, and responsibility for constitutional affairs, as they relate to devolution and the Welsh Government.

The first minister is a Member of the Senedd, and is nominated by the Senedd (Welsh Parliament; Welsh: Senedd Cymru)—before being officially appointed by the Monarch. Members of the Welsh Cabinet and junior ministers of the Welsh Government, as well as law officers, are appointed by the first minister. As head of the Welsh Government, the first minister is directly accountable to the Senedd for their actions and the actions of the Welsh Government. The main office of the first minister is in Tŷ Hywel, which is adjacent to the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay. An additional office is also kept at the Crown Buildings, Cathays Park, Cardiff which is the headquarters of the Welsh Government.

In December 2023, Drakeford announced his intention to stand down, and remained in the position until he was replaced by Vaughan Gething on 20 March 2024, as a result of the Welsh Labour leadership election.


Where initially established under the Government of Wales Act 1998, Section 53(1), the post was known as Assembly First Secretary (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 National Assembly in October 2000. The Government of Wales Act 2006 allowed for the post to be officially known as "First Minister" and also made the first minister Keeper of the Welsh Seal.

On 22 October 2021, Mark Drakeford, the incumbent First Minister, changed his Twitter handle from @fmwales to @PrifWeinidog, in what has been described by some media as an effort to increase usage of the shortened Welsh language term for First Minister and Prime Minister. The post remains officially and commonly known as "First Minister" in English.

Nomination and appointment

Candidates for the position of First Minister are nominated by the members of the Senedd. 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 Senedd (currently 31 out of 60 members)

Once this process has occurred the presiding officer shall formally send a letter to the Monarch who must then appoint that nominee to the position of First Minister.

List of contested elections

Party key Welsh Labour
Plaid Cymru
Welsh Conservatives
First minister nominative elections
Parliamentary term Date Candidates Votes received
5th Assembly 11 May 2016      Carwyn Jones 29
     Leanne Wood 29
12 December 2018      Mark Drakeford 30
     Paul Davies 12
     Adam Price 9
6th Senedd 20 March 2024      Vaughan Gething 27
     Andrew RT Davies 13
     Rhun ap Iorwerth 11


Under the arrangements in the Government of Wales Act 1998, executive functions are conferred on the Senedd 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 The British sovereign.

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.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Ministro principal de Gales para niños

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