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Carwyn Jones holds post-election talks with opponents

Carwyn Jones is holding talks with opposition parties today ahead of an expected bid to be re-nominated as First Minister tomorrow.

Carwyn Jones leads the largest party in the Assembly but lacks a majority Credit: PA, Joe Giddens

The Labour leader is meeting Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood and the remaining Liberal Democrat, Kirsty Williams in the Senedd. He's also talked by phone to the Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies. Sources say he hasn't and won't speak to UKIP Assembly Members.

I understand that Labour has asked for a vote to be held to choose a First Minister when AMs meet tomorrow (Wednesday) for the first time since last week's election.

It wasn't necessarily the case that such a vote would have been held. All AMs have to decide tomorrow is who will be Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officer.

But sources close to the Labour leader say that there's no other credible candidate for the top job. It means Labour will nominate Carwyn Jones and challenge the other parties to support him or block him and justify their reasons for blocking the leader of the largest group.

If that sounds confrontational, I understand that the talks between the leaders will be altogether more conciliatory.

Carwyn Jones is said to be of the view that the period between now and the summer can be treated separately to the rest of the five year Assembly term, dominated as it will be by the EU referendum and the steel industry crisis.

When he speaks to the opposition leaders, I'm told that he'll set out his view that the parties should work together to focus on those two major issues, leaving any further discussions about budgets and government until after the summer.

Much therefore depends on the way that Plaid Cymru, as official opposition, approaches these talks.

I understand that in her meeting with Carwyn Jones, Leanne Wood doesn't plan to make it easy for him and will be looking for some substantial concessions in exchange for not blocking his nomination.

Before choosing a First Minister, AMs have another, more pressing decision: electing a Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officer.

The contest has been thrown open by the surprise move by former Deputy Presiding Officer David Melding, who's announced that he won't be putting his name forward. He'd been considered to be the favourite by all parties.

Names in the frame for what will be a crucial job in a very divided Assembly are Labour's John Griffiths, Jane Hutt and Joyce Watson and Plaid Cymru's Elin Jones and Dafydd Elis-Thomas.

There had earlier been some speculation that Kirsty Williams might be interested in the role and I understand that the Conservatives will put forward a group nomination later.

But it's not any clearer who will win the rôle because the vote will be a secret ballot and Labour has decided not to whip its AMs.

The first plenary session of the new Assembly begins at 1.30pm tomorrow (Wednesday) with election of a Presiding and Deputy Presiding Officer first, followed immediately by a vote on a First Minister.

I also expect that, if Carwyn Jones is elected, it's likely that he'll appoint a cabinet by the end of the week.

UPDATE 1410

Conservative AM Nick Ramsay tells me that he's consider putting his name forward as a candidate for Presiding Officer if no other candidates promise greater transparency and a bigger rôle for Assembly Members.

I understand that the Conservative group will be putting forward its own nomination for the post but will allow its AMs to vote for whomever they like.

The Monmouth AM says that he'll look to see if any of the candidates will promise more transparency, greater openness in the selection of committee chairs and to pay more attention to Assembly Members than to the party whips.

He says, if none offers those things, he will consider putting his own name forward.

UPDATE 1450

A Conservative source says that the group's Deputy Leader Paul Davies is 'taking soundings' about putting his name forward into the Presiding Officer contest. It's not a formal bid yet, but he's said to be talking to friends and family about the move.

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