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Voting begins for Mark Drakeford’s replacement in Wales

16 Feb 2024 2 minute read
Left: Vaughan Gething – Right: Jeremy Miles

Voting begins today for the two candidates vying to be the next first minister of Wales.

Jeremy Miles, the current minister for education and Welsh language, and Vaughan Gething, the minister for the economy, are competing to see who will lead Welsh Labour, and the country, by mid-March.

They want to replace Mark Drakeford, who has been first minister since 2018, having announced his intention to resign late last year.

Whoever is successful will become the fifth leader of the country since the National Assembly for Wales (now called the Senedd) was established in 1999.

Most people in Wales will not get a say in which of them will be the new leader of the country.


Only Labour members or part of an affiliated organisation, such as a trade union, can participate, meaning about 100,000 people can vote.

Mr Gething has the backing of most of the large unions, and Lord Kinnock, who led the UK party from 1983 to 1992.

There has been some controversy over Mr Gething receiving the backing of the Unite union, after his opponent was disqualified because he has never held “elected lay office as representatives of workers”.

‘New rule’

Mr Miles said it was “a new rule that no-one was aware of” and that members were unhappy.

But Unite said it had carried out the nomination process correctly and Mr Gething said it was up to the union to determine its own democratic processes.

Unlike previous Labour leadership elections, all the votes are equally weighted.

Selection in the past has used an “electoral college” system, giving greater weight to MPs and Members of the Senedd.

Voting opened on Friday (February 16) and the result will be declared on March 16.

Mark Drakeford is not expected to stand down immediately and his final first minister’s questions is expected on March 19.

A vote will also need to take place in the Senedd at which opposition groups can put forward their own candidates.

With Labour the largest party, it is unlikely that any other group would take the role.

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