What happens next in the election of a new First Minister in Wales?

Jeremy Miles(Left) and Vaughan Gething (Right) are competing to become the new Welsh Labour leader. Credit: PA Images

Once Welsh Labour has elected a new leader on Saturday, attention turns to the Senedd for subsequent events.Mark Drakeford will no longer be leader of Welsh Labour but he will remain First Minister for a further few days.On Tuesday 19 March, he will take his last First Minister’s Questions which begins at 1.30pm.Soon after finishing that session, he will tender his resignation to the King and once that happens, the Senedd has 28 days to nominate another member of the Welsh Parliament to become First Minister.In fact, that should take place the next day: Wednesday 20th March.

Mark Drakeford will no longer be leader of Welsh Labour but he will remain First Minister for a further few days. Credit: PA Images

Under the Senedd’s standing orders, the Llywydd or Presiding Officer, Elin Jones, must invite nominations. If there’s only one nomination, then she declares that person to be the Senedd’s nominee for the post of First Minister.If there’s more than one nomination - in other words, if the Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru nominate their leaders - then there has to be a kind of vote, a roll call.The Llywydd will call each member in alphabetical order to vote for a candidate. She and the Deputy Presiding Officer, Labour’s David Rees are excluded from this vote.

If two members are nominated, the candidate with the most votes becomes the nominee. If they have the same number of votes, there has to be another roll call.This is exactly what happened in 2016 when members of Plaid Cymru, the Conservatives and UKIP voted for Leanne Wood to become First Minister instead of Carwyn Jones.Between them they had 29 votes as did Labour with the support of the Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams. Talks were held and another vote the following week led to Carwyn Jones resuming the post of First Minister.This time around, even if the opposition parties were to unite they can’t block Labour’s nomination because one of their members, Rhys ab Owen, has been suspended from the Senedd, so Labour can muster 29 votes while all three opposition parties can only guarantee 28.However, the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru could still nominate their leaders, Andrew RT Davies and Rhun ap Iorwerth. The Liberal Democrat MS Jane Dodds could also nominate herself.

In this event, a simple majority of Labour votes will mean that the Labour leader wins. In the highly unlikely scenario of them not winning a majority, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and another roll call held.Once all this is over, the Llywdd sends a letter to the King (by fax!) telling him the name of the Senedd’s nominee to become First Minister.The King then appoints that person First Minister by Royal Warrant and when that has been granted the new First Minister will swear his oath to the monarch in a ceremony in Cardiff.After that happens, the new First Minister will begin assembling his cabinet before taking his first Question session in the Senedd on the 16th April following the Easter recess.

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