The battle for the leadership of Plaid Cymru will come to an end later today in a Cardiff hotel. One of three candidates - Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Elin Jones or Leanne Wood - will be declared the winner of the race to succeed Ieuan Wyn Jones.

Party members were given a distinct choice. Elin Jones is the only candidate to have served in the Labour Plaid Cymru coalition, Leanne Wood the only one from an English-speaking Valleys background and Dafydd Elis-Thomas the only one with a political career stretching back to the period before devolution.

Elin Jones began as the early favourite, based on her reputation as a competent minister for rural affairs, the same tricky portfolio that launched Carwyn Jones on the path to the Labour leadership.

But it was Leanne Wood whose campaign got off to a flying start. She was backed by both the former party president and veteran Welsh language campaigner Dafydd Iwan and by the former MP and leading thinker on Plaid Cymru's left-wing, Adam Price.

Dafydd Elis-Thomas is the only candidate to have led the party before and his experience has shown in an assured performance on the campaign trail. His twin themes have been the need to get back into coalition government with Labour at the earliest opportunity and the need to create jobs based on green energy, which for him includes a new nuclear power station at Wylfa.

All three have stressed the need for a distinctly Welsh approach to tackle unemployment and apart from nuclear power the main differences of approach have emerged over Plaid Cymru's core aim of independence. Leanne Wood has given the goal the greatest prominence, in contrast with Dafydd Elis-Thomas' long held doubts about how achievable -or desirable- true independence is in the modern world.

If that has sometimes left Elin Jones looking like the compromise candidate, it equally has made the other two seem like no-compromise candidates. Party members have had to choose not just who appeals to them but who would appeal most to Welsh voters.

Today is a momentous day for Plaid and for Wales as we elect our new leader. Throughout the past few months our members, supporters and the broader electorate alike have taken part in a lively and open debate about the future direction of Plaid Cymru. The Leadership election has energised and united Plaid with a renewed determination to fight for a better future for Wales.

It is a contest that has become harder to read as the weeks have turned to months since Ieuan Wyn Jones announced his decision to stand down. Most observers agree that what will be crucial is who comes third. His or her votes will then be redistributed between the other two candidates before a winner is declared.

In an interview with ITV Wales, Mr Jones talks about what qualities he thinks a party leader should have.

"The key thing is to be yourself and not to be something you're not, and actually to develop your own style" he says.

"Over time I think people respect that a lot more than if you try artificially to be somebody you're not. "