Monday, 5 October 2009

Rules of the game

The race is on to choose the next leader of the labour group in the Assembly, but what are the rules.
To win you have to get over half of the votes cast. But it being the Labour Party it's not quite as straight forward as counting all the votes. Oh no, they have what is called an 'electoral college.' In the college there are three distinct sections all having a third of the total vote.

The first and most important are the 56 elected Welsh Labour members of the National Assembly , House of Commons and the European Parliament. These 56 members between them command a third of the votes. So they have a disproportionate say in the final outcome. Indeed, by virtue of the fact that there are more of them, the Labour MPs are top dogs in this section.

The second section are ordinary party members who will all have a postal vote.

The third section consist of trade unions and socialist societies that are affiliated to the Welsh Labour party. Unlike last time the union bosses can't cast a block vote for their favourite son or daughter, this time they have got to ballot their members. In total there are 278,450 potential voters in this section. They break down as follows: Unite 36%, Unison Cymru 18.7%, GMB 18.3%, USDAW 7.9%, CWU 5%, Community 3.6%, Wales Co-op Party 3.6%, NUM South Wales 1.8%, UCATT 1.8%, ASLEF 0.7%, Musicians Union 0.7%, BECTU 0.4%, TSSA 0.4%, Fabians 0.4%, Socialist Health Association 0.4%, Welsh Labour Students 0.4%.

Only the Assembly Members can nominate the candidates and each candidate has to have 6 nominations. So it is theoretically for four candidates to be nominated, but only three candidates are likely to be in the race. Edwina Hart, Carwyn Jones and Huw Lewis. We will only know for certain on 22 October.

The ballot papers will be sent out on the 2 November and will close on the 26 November with the results been announced on Tuesday, 1 December.

There will only be one mailing which will include the candidates' information and the ballot paper. There is a bar on the candidates doing any other mailing or advertising in the press. They can, however phone, e-mail and use the web to reach the voters.

Unions can send out material backing their chosen brother or sister to there members. Which will undoubtedly give an advantage to whoever they choose to back.

There will be 5 husting meetings but only Labour party members may attend. So the rest of us will be left in the cold with no say at all on who we want as our next First Minister.

Perhaps the pressure will grow for a recall Assembly election. So that the people of Wales can decide who they want as First Minister.

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