All change for Welsh Assembly party leaders?


All four major parties in the Welsh Assembly have embarked on leadership contests. Here is a guide to the who, why, and when.


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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 also has sufficient backing to get on the ballot paper. Eluned Morgan, is also expected to have the nominations needed after Carwyn Jones pledged his support to ensure the contest included a woman.

When will the winner be named?

Welsh Labour decided at a special conference in September that, for the first time, its leader would be elected by a system of one-member-one-vote (Omov), dropping the electoral college which gave more weight to the views of MPs, AMs and affiliated organisations such as trade unions. Voting will take place in November with the result to be announced in early December, nine years to the month that Carwyn Jones took over from Rhodri Morgan.


Image source, Getty/Ashwood Photography
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Neil Hamilton (L) was ousted by Caroline Jones but Gareth Bennett (R) won the membership ballot

Why was 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 to step in and order a ballot of UKIP members in Wales to settle the row.

Who was in the running?

Neil Hamilton and Caroline Jones both stood, along with Gareth Bennett, who vowed to campaign to abolish the assembly.

Who won?

Gareth Bennett surprised many by being declared winner of the three-way contest on 10 August, with Mr Hamilton in second place and Ms Jones third, having served just six weeks as group leader.


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

Why was there a contest?

Andrew RT Davies quit the leadership in late June feeling he had lost the support of his colleagues. He had been condemned within the party a few days earlier 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 was in the running?

There were two contenders - Paul Davies, who had been asked to serve as interim leader, and Suzy Davies.

Who won?

Paul Davies was named on 6 September as winner of a postal ballot of Welsh Conservative members by a margin of just over two to one over his rival.

Plaid Cymru

Image source, Plaid Cymru
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Adam Price won a three-way contest with Rhun ap Iorwerth second and incumbent leader Leanne Wood third

Why was there a contest?

Plaid rules allow for a leadership contest every two years, and there was a window for a challenge this summer. Despite Leanne Wood's high profile in TV election debates in recent years, there had 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 was in the running?

Earlier in June Rhun ap Iorwerth said he had "no plans" to challenge Ms Wood, but then announced a bid saying she had invited a debate on Plaid's leadership and supporters had urged him to stand. Meanwhile 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, prompting Mr Price to throw his hat into the ring too.

Who won?

Adam Price was named the winner of the membership ballot on 28 September, with Rhun ap Iorwerth second. Leanne Wood, who had served six years as leader, came third.

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.

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