With Mark Drakeford coming out on top in the Welsh Labour leadership
contest, we look at the next steps to him becoming First Minister…

Mark Drakeford, the assembly member for Cardiff West since 2011, has been elected to replace Carwyn Jones as leader of Welsh Labour. The 64-year-old Carmarthenshire native, who has served as the Welsh Government’s finance secretary since 2016 and was previously health minister for three years, was billed as the strong favourite in the three-person leadership contest and is now in position to become the next first minister.

While Professor Drakeford’s election as leader of the Welsh Government is not guaranteed, he looks to be in a very strong position to secure enough votes in the Senedd. Here’s our guide to the next steps following his successful campaign.

Nomination Process

In accordance with Section 47 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, the assembly must nominate a member to be appointed as first minister within 28 days of the incumbent FM tendering their resignation to the Queen. We know that Carwyn Jones intends to resign after taking his final FMQs on Tuesday 11th December, and that the vote to replace him is planned to take place on Wednesday 12th.

This will mirror what happened in 2009, where the Labour leadership result was announced the week before Carwyn Jones took office. Rhodri Morgan took his final FMQs on the Tuesday after the leadership result, and Carwyn Jones was nominated by AMs as his successor the following day – on Wednesday 9th December. Officially, he did not become First Minister until Thursday 10th December because the Queen had to approve the nomination.


Mark Drakeford wins Welsh Labour leadership election

The Vote

If Mark
Drakeford is the only person nominated for FM, the assembly’s presiding officer
will state that she will recommend his appointment to the Queen without any
vote taking place at all. If somebody else is nominated the presiding officer
must invite each AM (except for the presiding and deputy presiding officers) to
vote for a candidate. It is expected that both Plaid Cymru and the Welsh
Conservatives will nominate their respective leaders, Adam Price and Paul Davies.

In the
event of a tie a further vote must take place, but – as
happened in 2016
with the Leanne Wood challenge – the meeting can be
brought to a close and the assembly reconvened at a later date to allow time
for talks. In 2016, Carwyn Jones struck a deal with Plaid Cymru to end weeks of
deadlock, and appointed Lib Dem AM Kirsty Williams as Education Secretary to
shore up votes.

It seems
unlikely that Prof Drakeford will need to make a deal this time around, because
independent AM Dafydd Elis-Thomas, who was appointed culture minister last
November, also votes with the government.

New Cabinet

Jones appointed his first cabinet almost immediately: changes were announced on
the day that he officially became FM. This time around, both Thursday 13th
and Friday 14th December are strong possibilities given that they
would allow new ministers the weekend to get to grips with their briefs.