How can Mark Drakeford form a Labour-only Welsh Government without a Senedd majority?

  • Words by ITV Wales News' Head of Politics Nick Powell

No party has ever had an absolute majority in the Senedd but in three of the six elections to Cardiff Bay, Labour has fallen just one short, with 30 seats.

Having exactly half the seats puts the governing party in quite a strong position. For as long as its MSs stick together, they can't be defeated but they do need to find an extra vote to get things done.

This time Labour seem certain to govern alone but will have to make sure that at least one of the three opposition parties is supportive of any legislation the government proposes.

When It comes to getting the budget passed, it will need to agree to some of its opponents' pet projects to secure a majority but it's not as if any of the other parties want a coalition either. 

On the previous two occasions when Labour got to 30 seats, the party promptly booted its previous partners out of government, the Liberal Democrats in 2003 and Plaid Cymru in 2011.

That almost guaranteed bruised feelings and Labour hit trouble after 2003 when a row over who should become Deputy Presiding Officer cost the party the loyalty of two of its members. 

The Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats began to spot issues where they could make common cause and defeat the government. That cooperation laid the foundations of the Rainbow Alliance that those three parties almost formed after 2007, when they came close to taking over the government before a Labour-Plaid coalition was formed.

Things ran more smoothly after 2011 but eventually the opposition parties lost their appetite for doing deals with Labour and a piece of flagship legislation, the Public Health Bill, was defeated shortly before the 2016 election. 

After that election, we experienced something quite close to majority Labour government. The only Liberal Democrat, Kirsty Williams, accepted the job of Education Minister and then Dafydd Elis-Thomas, who'd left Plaid Cymru, became a Deputy Minister.

No further deals with the opposition were necessary. So although Labour has gained a seat to get to thirty, the Welsh Government has one fewer seat than it did before the election.

The 2003 and 2011 experiences suggest that being on 30 will cause it problems at some point in the next five years.