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Last Updated: Monday, 5 November 2007, 15:44 GMT
Top Welsh Lib Dem job for German
Mike German
Mike German has led his party in the Welsh assembly since 1999
Mike German has been confirmed as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats in Wales.

The South Wales East AM replaces Montgomeryshire MP Lembit Opik, who had announced his decision to stand down.

Mr German has also retained his position as leader of the six Lib Dems in the Welsh assembly. He was the only nominee for both contests.

He had already announced he will stand down from the role some time after the local council elections next May.

The contest for the assembly leadership followed May's assembly election, in line with Lib Dem rules.

Whoever will succeed Mike will have precious little time to make an impact before the general election. That is why Mike needs to stand down in May
Peter Black, Lib Dem AM

Mr German said the election of a single figurehead "shows us as a Welsh party wanting a strong future for the country. I am glad to see the party moving forward from its new base at the National Assembly".

He said his priorities until next year would be seeing through projects such as reviews of their campaigning and policy-making and ensuring that the work of the Lib Dem group in the assembly fed in better to what they did on the ground.

"With council elections next year, we will campaign on our record of delivery and agenda for empowering communities," he said.

Writing in his blog, Peter Black, the South Wales West AM, and a potential future leadership contestant for the party in Wales, questioned the mandate given to Mr German.

He believed the party needed to have a thorough leadership debate and thought Mr German should stand down soon after the council elections in May.

"Mike has said that he intends to give plenty of time for his successor to establish themselves before they need to face the electorate in 2011, but the sudden availability of the Welsh party leadership puts a new complexion on this," he wrote.

"It means that whoever will succeed Mike will have precious little time to make an impact before the general election. That is why Mike needs to stand down in May rather than leave it until later".

In response, Mr German said Mr Black had held this view since the election campaign, but was unable to receive the support of his colleagues for the leadership nominations.

Mr German, who was deputy first minister when the Lib Dems were in coalition with Labour in the assembly from 2000 - 2003, has led his party in Cardiff Bay since devolution began in 1999.


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