Plaid leadership election: the runner(s) and rider(s)

As leadership elections go, it is on the unusual side. An electorate of three will have to choose between a maximum of two candidates.

Elfyn Llwyd's decision to stand down at the next general election creates a vacancy not only in Dwyfor Meirionnydd but also in his other role as parliamentary leader of Plaid Cymru. He wants to relinquish the role before the 2015 election.

Mr Llwyd is the only person to have held the post, which is a relatively modern creation, dating back to the election of Ieuan Wyn Jones as party leader or "president" 12 years ago. In the run-up to the creation of the National Assembly for Wales, Plaid had been led by an MP. Since 2001, it has been led by an assembly member.

Mr Llwyd was then elected Plaid's parliamentary leader, although the process was rather opaque and appeared to be more of a coronation than an election. His successor will be chosen in a similar way.

His decision to stand down before the election means the next parliamentary leader will be one of two men - Arfon MP Hywel Williams or Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards. The new man is likely to be in place by Plaid Cymru's autumn conference next year.

The job has a few perks: a chance to question the prime minister occasionally and the right to ask a follow-up question to the secretary of state for Wales. Mr Llwyd has also been made a privy councillor, allowing him to be briefed on confidential government issues, but that does not come with the job automatically.

So who will it be? Mr Edwards fears the job would mean him having to change his "angry young man" style (although those of us who've seen Elfynometer eruptions across many years might beg to differ) so would not want it.

That leaves Hywel Williams, an MP since 2001. He would have to give up his (paid) role chairing committees on the Speaker's panel but is said to be willing to do that to come to the aid of the party.