The Electoral Commission has decided to reconsider its decision in January this year to register the Welsh National Party as a new political party in Wales. This follows a successful pre-action challenge by Plaid Cymru.
In December 2019, the Commission received an application under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 to register a party with the name ‘Welsh National Party’. The application was made by a new party set up by former Plaid Cymru member, Mr Neil McEvoy M.S.
Due to an “administrative error”, the Commission did not follow its usual practice of consulting the public on the application, but registered the new party and its name nevertheless. Plaid Cymru was aggrieved by this decision given that the Welsh translation of ‘Welsh National Party’ very closely resembles its original name as a party, ‘Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru’.
The newly-registered Welsh National Party then made a further application to the Commission to register a Welsh name for itself: ‘Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru’.
Following a complaint by Plaid Cymru, the Commission decided to maintain the registration of the English name ‘Welsh National Party’, but to reject the Welsh name ‘Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru’ due to the risk of confusion with Plaid Cymru.
In a pre-action letter setting out potential grounds for judicial review, Plaid Cymru challenged the Commission’s decision to maintain the registration of the English name whilst rejecting its Welsh translation as irrational and inadequately reasoned.
The Commission has now responded to the pre-action letter, stating that it will reconsider the registration of Welsh National Party afresh and that, until this further review is concluded, its previous decision to register the English name is “of no effect”.
Gwion Lewis is advising Plaid Cymru and drafted its pre-action letter.