Change in Wales

Ballot box with Welsh flag

All four major parties in the Welsh Assembly are facing leadership contests for one reason or another. Here is a guide to the “who, why, and when”.


Image caption Carwyn Jones is standing down after nine years as Welsh Labour leader and first minister

Why is there a contest?

Carwyn Jones shocked the Welsh Labour conference in April when he announced he would step down as their leader and first minister at the end of the year. He said he had been through “the darkest of times” – a reference to the death last November of Carl Sargeant, four days after Mr Jones sacked him as communities secretary.

Who is in the running?

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford was first to declare, with backing from more than the minimum five AMs needed for the nomination. Vaughan Gething, Eluned Morgan and Huw Irranca-Davies have also said they want to stand but unless the rules change on nominations not all of them will get onto the ballot paper.

When will the winner be named?

Welsh Labour will hold a special conference in September to decide the rules of the contest, amid debate over whether it should be one member one vote (OMOV) or an electoral college which gives more weight to the views of MPs, AMs and organisations such as trade unions. The result is expected around early December, nine years to the month that Carwyn Jones took over from Rhodri Morgan.


Image caption Neil Hamilton was ousted as group leader by Caroline Jones in May

Why is there a contest?

Neil Hamilton was ousted as leader of the five-strong UKIP group in May by Caroline Jones, who promised a more collaborative approach to Senedd politics. The former Tory MP vowed to regain the group leadership, prompting UKIP HQ in London to step in and order a ballot of UKIP members in Wales to settle the row.

Who is in the running?

Neil Hamilton and Caroline Jones have both declared their intention to stand, along with Gareth Bennett, who has vowed to campaign to abolish the assembly.

When will the winner be named?

UKIP has said it expects to announce the result of the membership ballot by the end of July.


Image caption Andrew RT Davies told the BBC he knew of moves to unseat him more than a year ago

Why is there a contest?

Andrew RT Davies quit the leadership last Wednesday feeling he had lost the support of his colleagues. He had been condemned within the party the previous Friday for accusing firms such as Airbus of undermining Brexit by voicing their concerns about the impact on trade. But the ardent supporter of Brexit later told BBC Wales he had been aware of moves to unseat him for some time.

Who is in the running?

Interim leader Paul Davies has said he would like the job on a permanent basis, and Suzy Davies has also put her name forward. While both backed Remain in the 2016 referendum on Europe, former Welsh Secretary David Jones has said the next assembly group leader should reflect what he called the “overwhelmingly Eurosceptic” views of grassroots members in Wales.

When will the winner be named?

A postal ballot of Welsh Conservative members will take place in August, and the result declared on 6 September.

Plaid Cymru

Image copyright Plaid Cymru
Image caption Adam Price and Rhun ap Iorwerth will challenge Leanne Wood for her leadership of Plaid Cymru

Why is there a contest?

Plaid rules allow for a leadership contest every two years, and the window for a challenge closed on Wednesday. Despite Leanne Wood’s high profile in TV election debates in recent years, there has been unhappiness within party ranks at the apparent lack of progress in terms of AMs and MPs elected. In June Ms Wood said she would welcome a contest and felt “very” confident of winning it.

Who is in the running?

Earlier in June Rhun ap Iorwerth said he had “no plans” to challenge Ms Wood, but has announced a bid saying she had invited a debate on Plaid’s leadership and supporters had urged him to stand. On Monday, Adam Price called on Ms Wood to share the leadership with a man to boost Plaid’s fortunes or face the prospect of a challenge. She turned the proposal down and Mr Price has now thrown his hat into the ring too.

When will the winner be named?

Plaid Cymru says it will announce a timetable shortly.

What about the Liberal Democrats?

Image caption Jane Dodds (R) with ex-Welsh Lib Dem leaders Kirsty Williams and Lord German

The Welsh Lib Dems had a leadership election last November, when Jane Dodds beat Elizabeth Evans in a vote of the membership. She took over from Mark Williams, the last remaining Welsh Lib Dem MP who stepped down after losing his Ceredigion seat at the 2017 general election.

With the sole Lib Dem AM Kirsty Williams serving in the Welsh Government as education secretary, the party changed its rules which previously said the Welsh leader had to be an AM or MP.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *