Mark Drakeford vowed to be ‘radical’ and ‘ambitious’ in government as his party retains power in Wales
The Labor Party has won its best-ever result in the Senedd election with 30 seats – just one short of a majority – although it failed to win any of the four regional seats called on Saturday.
The final result gives the Welsh Conservatives 16 seats, while Plaid Cymru has 13 and the Liberal Democrats one.
Mr. Drakeford can now decide whether to form a minority government or invite members of other parties into a Labour-led government, which would give the party greater control over the Senedd.
Welsh Labour attributes the “extraordinary result” to Mr. Drakeford’s leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, which meant that the First Minister’s cautious and careful approach went down well with voters.
Asked if he planned to continue his cautious approach to policy during a new administration, Drakeford told the PA news agency, “Well, absolutely, in terms of the coronavirus. The pandemic has not gone away.
“A government I lead will continue to follow the science and do what our medical advisers tell us to do, and that means doing things in a way that keeps Wales safe.
“But on other issues, our manifesto is a radical one with a wide range of ideas that are ambitious for Wales.
“I will be very committed to ensuring that we give it the greatest momentum to make these things happen here in Wales.”
Cllr Drakeford returned to Labour’s Cardiff offices to celebrate after Friday’s constituency results gave the party 27 seats.
He visited Porthcawl, Bridgend, on Saturday afternoon to address party members.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds, who won a regional seat in mid- and west Wales after her party lost the Brecon and Radnorshire constituency to the Conservatives, said she had not yet been approached by Mr. Drakeford to help form the next government.
She told BBC Radio Cymru, “I’ll have to speak to other people within the party and we’ll have to see.”
The Welsh Conservatives said they had the “best result the party has ever achieved in a Senedd election” with 16 seats.
That included taking the Vale of Clwyd from Labour and Brecon and Radnorshire from the Liberal Democrats.
Andrew RT Davies, Senedd leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said he was “delighted” to have won those constituency seats as well as a larger number of seats on the regional list.
“It was an unconventional campaign and it is clear that incumbency and continuity played a significant role,” Mr. Davies said.
He congratulated Mr. Drakeford and the Welsh Labour Party on a successful campaign and said the election was conducted “in good spirit” by political parties across Wales.
Plaid Cymru now has 13 seats in the Welsh Parliament, although prominent former leader Leanne Wood lost her Rhondda seat to Labour.
On her Facebook page, Ms. Wood said the result was “disappointing” but that her team could “hold its head high and say we ran a clean and honest campaign, did not denigrate our opponents and worked hard.”
Polls at the start of the campaign suggested that the Labour Party would post its worst ever result and risked winning only 22 of the 60 seats in the Senedd, a loss of seven seats compared with 2016.