Vote 2011: Labour 'on course for assembly majority'
Published: 6th May 2011 04:40:07
Labour is on course to win an outright majority in the Welsh assembly, says a leading political analyst.
Prof Roger Scully told BBC Wales it was difficult to see how Labour could win fewer than 30 seats, and a majority is likely, rather than just possible.
The Aberystwyth University expert's forecast came after Labour made significant gains, winning back both Llanelli and Blaenau Gwent.
Meanwhile, Lib Dems suffered a blow by losing Montgomeryshire to the Tories.
If Labour wins 31 seats it will be able to ditch Plaid, its coalition partner for the past years.
Plaid Cymru were also hit by the loss of deputy leader Helen Mary Jones in Llanelli, but was relieved when Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones held Ceredigion.
Keith Davies, speaking in Welsh in his acceptance speech, called himself a socialist, a nationalist and a Welshman and said he was "looking forward to working hard for Wales and Llanelli".
But Helen Mary Jones, whose defeat means she is out of the assembly for the first time since it was founded in 1999, said: "We have been in this place before in this hall, and had come back. We will again."
Former prominent Plaid Cymru campaigner Sian Caiach, standing as an independent in Llanelli, polled more than 2,000 votes which might have gone to Plaid, said political commentator Dr Richard Wyn Jones.
Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards called Ms Jones's defeat a big loss to the assembly, and he was surprised at the amount of votes Ms Caiach polled.
• First election result - Blaenau Gwent - at 0210 BST
• 0900 BST - counting of votes cast in north Wales starts
• 1530 BST - final outcome of assembly elections should be known
• 1600 BST - counting in the Alternative Vote (AV) referendum starts
• 2000 BST - final outcome of referendum should be known
In mid Wales, Tory Russell George took Montgomeryshire from the Lib Dems. The seat was won in 2007 by then Lib Dem candidate Mick Bates, who was expelled by the party after being convicted for drunkenly attacking a paramedic.
Lib Dem-held Cardiff Central is said to be too close to call, and there is speculation the Conservatives may lose Cardiff North to Labour.
But Tories hope they could become the second biggest party, while the Greens and UKIP predict they may win their first seats, and both Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrats fear they will suffer losses.
We've been fighting on the failure of the assembly rather than Europe and immigration but people keep coming back to us about these issues”
In the last assembly, Labour held 26 seats, Plaid 14, Tories 13, Lib Dems six, and one independent.
First Minister Carwyn Jones would not speculate on another coalition if Labour failed to get an outright majority, but he did rule out "getting into bed with the Tories".
He added: "What I'd like of course is a functioning, arithmetical majority".
Meanwhile, the Conservatives are waiting to see if they can exceed the 12 seats they won in 2007.
UKIP, which returned its first Welsh MEP at the last European election, said it was confident it would break new ground by taking one of the four regional seats in South Wales East.
Green Party officials said they were "quietly confident" of their first AM, and are targeting 7% of the vote in the South Wales Central region, to elect their Welsh leader Jake Griffiths.
Plaid, however, looks set to shed votes and seats. Party sources admitted it was a difficult campaign on the doorstep and they were "not expecting any gains".
Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, said he was very proud of his party's performance in the last assembly government, when it was in coalition with Labour.
But he said he found it "inconceivable" that his party would go into coalition with either the Lib Dems or the Conservatives.
He refused to be drawn on whether he would face a leadership challenge if the party registers poor results in this election.
Ron Davies, the former Labour Welsh Secretary who was in Tony Blair's first cabinet, faild to make a political comeback as the Plaid Cymru Caerphilly candidate.
Before his result was declared, Mr Davies said people wanted to send a message to Tories in Westminster through Labour votes.
"It's very sad, it undermines the whole point of devolution," he said.
Meanwhile, BNP officials in Swansea East said they had a "fabulous response" to campaigning, and were "optimistic".
While the first assembly election result was announced in the early hours of Friday, counting of votes cast in north Wales will not begin until later.
As well as assembly seats, people have also voted on whether to replace the first-past-the-post system for electing Westminster MPs with the alternative vote (AV). Counting will start in the AV referendum at 1600 BST on Friday.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2011. Vote 2011: Labour 'on course for assembly majority'. [Online] (Updated 06 May 2011)
Available at: http://www.manchesterwired.co.uk/news.php/151384-Vote-2011-Labour-on-course-for-assembly-majority [Accessed 25th May 2013]
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