There are elections to 22 unitary authorities across Wales every four years, most recently on 1 May 2012. The electoral system currently used is First Past The Post. Key unitary authorities are Cardiff, Newport and Swansea councils which all lie on the southern coastal belt.
The National Assembly for Wales has existed since 1999, after the Welsh voters narrowly approved it in the 1997 devolution referendum. It is based in Cardiff Bay, and there are elections every 4 years for 60 Assembly Members (AMs). Voters have 2 votes with 40 AMs being elected by First Past The Post system in individual constituencies, and a further 20 AMs are elected by the Regional Top-Up system in which voters have an extra vote for a specific region that they reside in. The regions are South Wales East, South Wales Central, South Wales West, Mid and West Wales and North Wales. Each region elects four AMs based on the proportionality of the vote.
Wales has been eligible to send MPs to Westminster since the Laws in Wales Act 1535. Between then and 1885, most constituencies were divided into county and borough constituencies and were both able to send one MP to Westminster. As the industrial revolution took hold and calls for reform (particularly in towns such as Methyr Tydfil), Parliament eventually allowed the new towns to vote and this introduced the first Labour MPs. Indeed the first leader of the Labour Party in Parliament, Keir Hardie, was one of the two MPs for Merthyr Tydfil. The following table shows the composition of Wales's MPs sent to Westminster since 1885.