Low levels of voter turnout in the first election to the National Assembly for Wales in May 1999 brought into question both the ability of devolution to revitalize representative democracy and the legitimacy of the Assembly itself. But drawing wider implications from turnout requires that we understand why electoral abstention was so widespread. We examine three hypotheses about voter turnout in 1999: that non-participation simply reflected a general apathy towards politics; that it was based on a specific apathy towards the new Assembly; or that low voter turnout reflected antipathy towards an unwanted political institution. We find support for the first two hypotheses, but little evidence for the third. Devolution has failed to engage the interest and support of many in Wales, but low turnout has not been prompted by fundamental antagonism to the devolved institution among the Welsh electorate.