Wales politics

Welsh referendum: Gloom in No camp as count continues

Leaders of the No campaign in the Welsh assembly powers referendum admit they are pessimistic about their chances.

With counting well under way, Rachel Banner of True Wales told the BBC: "It doesn't look as if it's gone our way".

Initial figures suggest turnout will be low, with reports of 32% in Blaenau Gwent - but Yes for Wales in that area are predicting a 68% vote in favour.

Voters are deciding if the assembly should have direct law-making powers.

Turnout was 29% in Merthyr and Flintshire, but higher in Carmarthenshire, at 44%.

BBC Wales referendum live events page

Ms Banner said although there had been positive and enthusiastic feedback on the streets to True Wales that "the polls were all against us".

Verification of papers began at 0900 GMT and the first results are expected to be announced at about lunchtime from the assembly, the Senedd.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews said the decision by No campaigners not to have official status meant a loss of publicity for the referendum.

That prevented either side from using broadcast slots and free Royal Mail deliveries to set out their case.

The turnout in other areas is: Conwy 33.79%; Bridgend 35.64%; Pembrokeshire 38.7%; Monmouthshire 35.83%; Neath Port Talbot 38%;

A Yes vote would give the assembly direct law-making powers over 20 devolved policy fields.

A No vote would keep the current system where the assembly asks parliament for powers to be transferred to Cardiff on a case-by-case basis.

But an opinion poll for BBC Wales has found almost half of potential voters felt they lacked enough information to make an informed decision.

Counting is taking place in 22 regional centres with the votes collated in the Senedd where the electoral commissioner for Wales will announce the final result.

Former First Minister Rhodri Morgan said before counting began it was "quite possible" it was going to be "a very low turnout," but it would make no difference to the vote's legitimacy.

"It's nice to get a big turnout but turnouts on constitutional referenda of this nature generally are pretty low," he added.

Assembly Presiding Officer Lord Elis-Thomas said he was not happy with the level of debate, and had spoken to many young voters who did not have enough information.

He said a House of Lords committee had recommended that referenda should be on "fundamental matters", but this vote was about a question "cobbled" together by the Labour Party.

Image caption Counts are being held in 22 Welsh counties, including this one in Newport

A poll conducted by ICM in the days leading up to the referendum found 48% of respondents said they had not received enough information. Exactly half said that they had.

It suggests an assembly with law-making and some taxation powers remains the most popular option - 35%.

Eighteen per cent supported the sort of law-making assembly without taxation powers that will exist if a Yes vote is declared on Friday, while 17% want the assembly to continue as it is.

Independence was favoured by 16%, and 15% wanted the assembly abolished.

The poll also asked what sort of government voters wanted to see after May's assembly election. After four years of coalition between Labour and Plaid Cymru, 61% would prefer to see a single party majority back in power and 33% backed another coalition.

ICM interviewed 1,003 adults on 1 and 2 March.

Some 2.2m people were eligible to vote in the Welsh referendum.