REFERENDUM: 'Turning point' for Wales hailed
11:40am Saturday 5th March 2011 in Assembly referendum
FIRST minister Carywn Jones hailed the 'Yes' vote in Thursday's referndum, saying: "It is a historic victory for Wales. Today an old nation came of age."
Deputy First Minister and Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones added the result marked a new era for Welsh devolution. He added: "The rest of the world can now sit up and take notice of the fact that our small nation, here on the western edge of the continent of Europe, has demonstrated pride in who we are, and what we all stand for."
His comments were also echoed by the Welsh Liberal Democrats' Kirsty Williams and Welsh Conservatives' and Nick Bourne.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said, A "yes" vote in the referendum to give the Welsh Assembly more law-making powers is a turning point in the principality's history, .
All four political parties in the Senedd hailed the result as historic and one which would make the law-making process in Wales more efficient and effective.
A total of 517,132 people voted in favour of Wales gaining primary legislative powers - with 297,380 against. Turnout was 35.2% of 2,289,042 eligible electors.
Campaigners for a "no" vote expressed disappointment at the result - repeating concerns it could lead to a gradual break-up of the UK. But a number of leading parliamentary figures in Westminster said the resounding "yes" vote was a positive step forward.
Deputy Prime Minister Mr Clegg said: "It will do away with the current restrictive and unwieldy arrangements. And it will allow the Welsh Assembly the freedom to get on with the job of delivering for Wales. This isn't the end of the devolution process, but it does mark an important turning point."
Since 2006, the Welsh Assembly has been able to make Legislative Competence Orders (LCOs) in 20 devolved areas. However, LCOs can only come into effect as laws once they have been passed by Westminster.
The "Yes" campaign - which won cross-party support as well as the backing of several Welsh rugby players and the Catholic Church - said change was needed because the current system was too slow and cumbersome.
It was backed by the electorate in 21 out of 22 local authorities - with the winning margin being 63.5% to 36.5%.