Labour have won the election in Wales: What happens next?

Mark Drakeford is expected to retain his position as First Minister when the first meeting of the Senedd happens. Credit: PA Images

The results are in, the parties are coming to terms with the verdict of the voters, and now the work starts for the Senedd and for the next Welsh Government. 

Here is what to expect will happen next with both:

  • Swearing in for the Senedd

Mark Drakeford affirms his allegiance in Welsh as he is sworn into the Senedd after retaining his seat in Cardiff West Credit: ITV Wales

Senedd Members have already started taking their oaths, some of them in person, some virtually. Officials believe the Senedd is the first UK parliament to do that although in Scotland members can swear their oaths virtually if they are ill.

Oath taking will carry on until the afternoon of Monday 10 May.

  • First Meeting

The first meeting will be a mix of members attending in person and virtually. Credit: PA

The date and method of the first meeting is yet to be confirmed.

This coming Wednesday, May 12, is the earliest possible date and the most likely. It has to happen within 21 days. 

Current social distancing rules mean that only 20 members can be in the chamber at one time, so the likelihood is that this meeting will be in a hybrid form with 20 members in person and 40 taking part online.

  • First Job: Election of Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officer

In their first meeting, members must elect a new Llywydd (Presiding Officer or PO) and Deputy (DPO). 

The two must be from different parties, one from the party of government and one from an opposition party. The election is chaired by the former PO or if they are standing, the Senedd Clerk.

Given the election outcome, I predict that Elin Jones, who has been in the PO post for the last five years, will stand again.

If so, the DPO will be a Labour politician. Last time, the veteran MS John Griffiths came close to winning that role so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him stand again.

  • Second Job: Choosing a First Minister

This has to happen within 28 days of the election. Given the result, I would expect it to happen straight away and so I would expect it to happen on Wednesday. 

Mark Drakeford is set to remain as the country's First Minister, after he held onto his seat in Cardiff West. Credit: PA Images

The Conservatives have conceded Mark Drakeford’s right to become First Minister so there is unlikely to be an election. 

Mark Drakeford’s name will then be sent to the Queen for approval and he will then be confirmed as First Minister.

  • Drakeford II

This time around will be different for Mark Drakeford. He will have his own personal mandate, endorsed with a clear vote in an election. That puts him in a very strong position internally in the Labour Party and in the Senedd itself. 

If he intends to stick with his timetable for handing over to another leader at some stage in this Senedd session, you can expect his first reshuffle to bring in some new faces and promote other possible successors to give them chance to prove themselves over the next few years.

  •  Minority or not? A Senedd of two halves

Thirty seats is enough for Labour to form a government alone but not comfortable in the longer term. It leaves Mark Drakeford vulnerable to a scenario where opposition parties unite to block legislation and, if any Labour members rebel, defeat it.

There is no rush. Mark Drakeford and Labour are currently in a strong position while his opponents have accepted the result, are demoralised and cannot work together. 

My prediction is that there will be a change at some point in the next five years. By then opposition parties should have recovered, gone through whatever changes of direction and/or leadership that they need, and may have started working together on specific occasions to inflict defeats on the Welsh Government. 

It will make life difficult for Mark Drakeford who will have to make sure all his members, including ministers, are present for crucial votes. 

Rhodri Morgan found himself in the same position in the years before the 2007 election when a united opposition meant that he expected to win votes on a Tuesday and lose them on a Wednesday. 

Jane Dodds, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, is in a strong position. Credit: PA Images

All of this, therefore, puts Jane Dodds in a strong position. If I were advising her, I would advise against following Kirsty Williams into government, were that to even be on offer, which I think unlikely.

Instead she could use her leverage to secure deals from Mark Drakeford to ensure his budgets pass and, if the other parties are able to work together in the second half of this Senedd session, work with them when it suits her.

This election marks the start of a new five year Senedd. It is like the start of a five-season box set. There might be a twist in season three.