Labour emerged victorious in the Welsh Assembly elections today - but narrowly missed out on securing an overall majority.
Carwyn Jones’ party comprehensively beat their rivals, winning 30 of the Senedd’s 60 seats. But it was unable to get to the “magic figure” of 31, which would result in Labour being able to form a majority government.
The results saw Labour increase its AMs from the 2007 election by four and former coalition partners Plaid Cymru slip into third place after shedding four seats.
The Conservatives endured a “bitter-sweet” morning, managing to increase their number of Assembly Members by two but losing leader Nick Bourne after he was defeated in the Mid and West Wales region.
And the Liberal Democrats, who endured a torrid time in the Scottish and English local elections, managed to pull themselves back from the brink, with five of their members returning to the Siambr - the same number it had before the Assembly went into recess.
Labour leader Jones, who retained his seat in Bridgend, said: “Thirty seats is a good result - we’ve made gains across Wales.
“To get up to 30 seats with the electoral system we have is quite an achievement. The task now is to make sure we are in a position to form a Labour-led government, because that’s what the people of Wales have shown they want.
“Over the next few days all the parties will be considering their positions. The opposition parties have had some severe disappointments and things need to settle before they think about their position. But from our point of view it’s important there is a government in place.”
While Labour officials may have mixed emotions at increasing their support but falling tantalisingly short of forming a majority, the party has previously controlled the Assembly with fewer AMs. At the last election the party went into coalition with Plaid, who this time suffered disappointment in the polls.
Leader Ieuan Wyn Jones and Alun Ffred Jones both held their seats in Ynys Mon and Arfon, but the Welsh nationalists’ deputy leader Helen Mary Jones lost her seat in Llanelli.
She said: “In politics all of us know you can win and you can lose. Of course I’m disappointed. We will have to sit down and think what we could have done better - both locally and nationally.”
Ieuan Wyn Jones later refused to answer any leadership questions. It remains to be seen whether Plaid would enter any agreements with Labour to form a government - especially as the two went through an acrimonious “divorce” during the campaign.
Among the flash-points were a spat in Caerphilly resulting in party members on both sides pointing the finger at one another during a row about the removal of election placards from residents’ gardens.
Labour has conclusively ruled out striking any deals with the Conservatives, who despite a good election performance will have to find a new leader after Nick Bourne’s departure. Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said Mr Bourne’s defeat was a “great loss” to her party.