On 6th December 2018, it was announced that Mark Drakeford would be taking over for Carwyn Jones as Leader of Welsh Labour. The Finance Minister beat out Health Minister Vaughan Gething and Eluned Morgan, the Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning. With Eluned Morgan being knocked out the first round on 23.3% of the vote, then Mark Drakeford beating Vaughan Gething on the second round, receiving 53.9% of the vote to 42.4% of the vote, respectively.
So, what does that mean?
As Labour are currently in a coalition Government in the Welsh Assembly, whoever wins the Leadership election is also extremely likely to become the next First Minister of Wales. So essentially this is both an internal party election and an election to decide who will be the next leader of Wales. Considering the Welsh Assembly has recently received important new powers, such as the ability to raise some taxes, whoever wins this election makes a big difference to Wales and everyone who lives here.
So what do you mean by “could” be the next First Minister?
In the Welsh Assembly, the First Minister has to be voted in by the Assembly, if there is another candidate put forward. For example, Carwyn Jones beat out ex-Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood to get his spot. As Labour is just a few seats short of a clear majority on their own and although unlikely, there is potential for an AM from a different party to be elected.
Two names spring to mind. Adam Price and Paul Davies. Adam Price is the newly elected Leader of Plaid Cymru, taking over from Leanne Wood. He has certainly been making his presence known in the Assembly, being extremely vocal on issues like Brexit and calling for a People’s Vote. There have been rumours that Plaid will nominate him for First Minister, but as of the time of writing this, nothing has been confirmed. Paul Davies is the newly elected leader of the Welsh Conservative group, it has been a big summer for Welsh leadership elections). Since Dafydd Elis-Thomas left Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Conservatives have been the second largest party in the Assembly. A challenge from them is extremely possible.
Maybe Drakeford will become First Minister, maybe another candidate will swoop in to get a shock win. All we know is that this is a very interesting time in Welsh politics.
by Megan Thomas