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EDITIONS
Vote 99 Monday, 10 May, 1999, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Devolution brings new politics
Frenzied vote counting brought coalition to Scotland
A new political era has emerged amid the final results from the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly elections.

Vote 99 Special Coverage
Labour is the biggest party in both Scotland and Wales, but lacks an overall majority in either and will be forced to rule in coalition.

Nationalist parties will form the official opposition in both devolved assemblies.

Plaid Cymru delivered their best ever performance.

But the biggest potential upset of the elections was avoided as the Welsh Labour Party leader secured a seat in the assembly.

Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomed the results. "I believe and I hope that out of these elections the union of the United Kingdom will have been strengthened rather than weakened," he said.

Scots Lib-Lab coalition expected

Donald Dewar: Comfortably ahead, but without a majority
At the end of counting in Scotland, Labour had 56 of the 129 seats. The Scottish National Party took 35, the Conservatives 18 and the Liberal Democrats 17.

The Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan won one seat - as did rebel MP Dennis Canavan, who stood as an independent after being booted out of the Labour Party.

A Green Party candidate also made it into the parliament in one of the last top-up counts to declare.

Coalition negotiations between Labour and the Lib Dems in both Scotland and Wales are expected to begin shortly.

Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar - poised to become leader of the new parliament - remained tight-lipped over details of any possible pact.

But Scots Lib Dem leader Jim Wallace, who now enjoys the role of powerbroker, said he expected to enter talks in the next few days after consulting with his new MSP colleagues.

Alex Salmond: Promised the SNP would be "a cracker of an opposition"
"No party will have the right in this parliament to have it all its own way," he said.

"This is the new style of politics where parties are going to have to co-operate."

SNP leader Alex Salmond, whose party suffered a bumpy campaign, said the nationalists would now be "a cracker of an opposition" in Holyrood.

"Oppositions of course tend to become governments at the next election," he said.

Hard Labour in Wales

There was relief for Labour in Wales as Alun Michael, Welsh Secretary and Labour's candidate to become first minister in the assembly, won a place on the top-up list.

Ironically, because he stood as a proportional representation candidate, the poor performance by his party had increased his individual chances.

"We will have an opportunity to work together in that assembly to make Wales a better place," he said afterwards.

The election of Alun Michael (left) brought relief to Labour
"I am grateful to everybody who has supported the Labour Party in this election.

"There are others that have been disappointed and I am sad for some of our candidates who would have brought so much to the assembly."

Labour secured 28 seats in the Welsh Assembly, with Plaid Cymru on 17 and the other parties trailing well behind.

Former Welsh secretary Ron Davies and popular two-time Welsh leadership contender Rhodri Morgan both comfortably won their seats.

Local relief for Hague

The Tories staged a core comeback at in the local elections, held the same day as the Scottish and Welsh polls.

hague
William Hague: Council results ease the pressure
With all the English council results in, the party had gained more than 1,300 seats - easing the immediate pressure on William Hague's leadership.

The party regained some of the areas which had, until four years ago, been traditional Tory heartlands.

But although the party put itself back on the electoral map outside of England - winning seats in Scotland and Wales - the Welsh and Scottish Tories suffered a blow when their leaders failed to win seats in the new bodies in the constituencies they contested.

Both Welsh Conservative leader Rod Richards and his Scottish counterpart David McLetchie had to wait for the results of the top-up list ballots before discovering they had gained seats.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Audio
The prospects for alliances in the new Scottish Parliament
Video
"William Hague has the most to celebrate"
Audio
The Welsh Labour camp breathe a sigh of relief
Video
"Wales has an assembly chosen by a minority of its people"
Video
"Now speculation focuses on the expected horse-trading"
Video
BBC Local Government Correspondent Rory MacLean reports
See also:

07 May 99 | News
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