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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 May, 2003, 17:38 GMT 18:38 UK
Davies makes 'no coalition' call
Kevin Brennan, Rhodri Morgan
Hooray for now - but could Rhodri Morgan strike a deal with Lib Dems?

A senior Labour AM has added his voice to calls for Welsh Labour leader Rhodri Morgan to go it alone in the new assembly government.

Andrew Davies, the Economic Development Minister in the former Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition in Cardiff Bay, has lent his weight to calls for Labour to press ahead with a single-party administration.

Mr Morgan has said he would not make a "hasty decision" after he was left one short of an absolute majority with 30 of the 60 assembly seats.

But Mr Davies has come out against teaming up with the party's former coalition partners.

He said: "Clearly our first priorty is to deliver on our programme.

Pact

"I think the preference of the party in Wales would be to do that as a Labour administration without a coalition or partnership with anybody else."

Mr Morgan had earlier said he had no plans to talk to another party, suggesting that he might not revive the pact with the Liberal Democrats under which the assembly government had been run since autumn 2000.

Vote 2003: the final score
Labour: 30
Plaid Cymru: 12
Conservatives: 11
Liberal Democrats: 6
Independent: 1

But, speaking to BBC Wales on Friday night, Mr Morgan indicated that a coalition was still a possibility.

"We are in charge," said Mr Morgan, who described himself as First Minister-in-waiting, because he will not regain the title until the assembly reconvenes next week.

"We've got the luxury now to relax for the next few days while we consider whether it's workable to go it alone.

"Maybe, maybe not," he told Wales Today. "We shall have to see when we've consulted."

Mr Morgan had previously floated the possibility of forming another coalition even if Labour won an outright majority.

Finely balanced

But the result of Thursday's election has left everything finely balanced. Broadly, because a non-voting presiding officer would come from an opposition party, it could mean that Labour would, in effect, have a majority.

But the situation is complicated because there will also be a deputy presiding officer, who can vote. In the first assembly, that was Wrexham Labour AM John Marek - but he was re-elected as an independent.

We've got the luxury now to relax for the next few days while we consider whether it's workable to go it alone
Rhodri Morgan

If Dr Marek is again chosen as deputy presiding officer, Labour clearly could not count on his votes. Labour will hold a special conference next week to discuss the way ahead.

The final total was Labour 30 seats, Plaid Cymru 12, Conservatives 11, Liberal Democrats six, and one independent.

Mr Morgan said his party was in an "enormously stronger position" than after the first assembly election, when it won 28 seats.

Labour, then under the leadership of Alun Michael, tried going it alone at first. But when Mr Morgan became leader he struck a deal with the Lib Dems, even though that angered some sections of his party.

John Marek
Could independent John Marek return as deputy presiding officer?

Asked on Friday about the possibility of another coalition, he replied : "Nothing is ruled in or ruled out at this stage."

Mr Morgan also expressed his disappointment at the turnout. It fell to 38%, down 8% from four years ago. In one seat it was just 25%.

Mr Morgan said turnout was poor and said he would happily co-operate with an Electoral Commission inquiry.

Gloss

The failure to secure an absolute majority took little of the gloss off a night of almost continuous success for Labour.

Labour won three south Wales "heartland" seats from Plaid: Islwyn, Rhondda and - after a recount - Llanelli, with a majority of just 21.

The party took a fourth seat from Plaid when Denise Idris-Jones won the crucial north Wales seat of Conwy with a majority of only 72 after two recounts.

But when the final regional list was announced in Mid and West Wales, Labour failed to gain a seat. That meant that Labour won 30 first-past-the-post constituencies and none on the regional list.

The big loser was undoubtedly Plaid Cymru. When the polls opened on Thursday it had 17 members, but by Friday was down to just 12.

Tylorstown, Rhondda
Defeats in seats like Rhondda have put pressure on Plaid leader

Plaid president Ieuan Wyn Jones said he would not resign, but one of his MPs, Ceredigion's Simon Thomas, said he thought there would be a challenge to his leadership.

The Conservatives had a good election, winning two extra regional seats to take their total to 11, including two women for the first time.

The Lib Dems stood still, retaining Montgomeryshire, Cardiff Central and Brecon and Radnorshire, and three list seats.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Wyre Davies
"A resounding success at the polls for Welsh Labour"



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SEE ALSO:
Welsh Labour's night of joy
02 May 03  |  Wales
Blair postpones NI elections
01 May 03  |  Northern Ireland
New faces gain as Labour lose seats
02 May 03  |  Scotland
Vote 2003 at-a-glance
02 May 03  |  Politics
Non-voters are the majority
02 May 03  |  Politics



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