Wales politics

Voting 'should change' for Welsh Labour leader contest

Debbie Wilcox
Image caption Debbie Wilcox said she changed her mind after the recent deputy leadership contest

The way Wales' next first minister is chosen should be changed, according to the Labour leader of Welsh councils.

Debbie Wilcox has changed her mind about the system Labour should use for the upcoming leadership contest after Carwyn Jones' decision to stand down.

The Newport council leader did support the current electoral college system but now backed one-member-one-vote.

The Welsh Local Government Association head said she will make the case for change to Welsh Labour's ruling body.

Labour is reviewing its procedures to replace Mr Jones as he plans to step aside as party leader and first minister in the autumn.

For leadership contests in Wales, the votes of union members account for a third of the total ballot, another third goes to the party's AMs, MPs and MEP, and a third to the membership under the electoral college system.

Many of the unions have criticised an attempt to change the system to one-member-one-vote (OMOV), while the leader of Wales' biggest union has said outside pressure will not force Unite Wales to change its view.

Image caption Carwyn Jones announced he was to stand down at Welsh Labour's conference in April

But Mr Jones' cabinet is divided over which system to use.

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford, the only confirmed candidate to date, supportive of a change to the OMOV system that is used to elect the UK and Scottish Labour leaders.

Members of Labour's Welsh Executive Committee (WEC) decided in November to continue with the electoral college system, which Mr Jones said at the time "has worked so well for Welsh Labour".

Ms Wilcox was one of those who backed the status quo because she felt "the role of the trade unions must not be diminished in any way in our proud history".

But she told BBC Wales' Sunday Politics Wales programme that she changed her mind following Welsh Labour's deputy leadership contest - Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris won the election despite more party members backing her rival, Cardiff North AM Julie Morgan.

"I saw during the process, how difficult it is now to explain to residents, to people in the streets, how someone got so many more votes, and actually, wasn't the person successful," Ms Wilcox added.

The WEC will meet once again on 9 June to discuss the electoral system and Ms Wilcox said she would discus the issue then.

Asked if she thought the ruling body would change the rules, she said: "I don't know. Let's see what the discussion is."

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