You can learn the Welsh model of this text right here.
Rhun ap Iorwerth was appointed as Plaid Cymru’s new chief mid-June 2023. He changed Adam Price, who stood down in response to a harmful report which discovered proof of a tradition of sexual harassment, bullying and misogyny within the occasion.
An speedy precedence for ap Iorwerth is to implement the report’s 82 suggestions. These embody introducing new insurance policies on sexual harassment, bettering how the occasion manages workers welfare and complaints, and reviewing its governance constructions. This is a significant endeavor for any political occasion, however notably for an organisation which isn’t giant, or particularly well-resourced.
Plaid Cymru should implement these adjustments whereas getting ready for the UK basic election subsequent 12 months and the Senedd election in 2026. But doing effectively in these elections requires extra than simply organisational reform and preparedness.
The occasion should additionally think about its electoral technique – it has didn’t make any important electoral advance lately. This is a development confirmed by its efficiency within the 2019 basic election and the 2021 Senedd election.
And there aren’t any indicators of electoral resurgence anytime quickly. Opinion polls recommend the occasion will make minimal good points within the subsequent basic election. Improving on that within the Senedd election two years later can be tough.
In the 2021 Senedd election, Plaid Cymru put its name for Welsh independence entrance and centre of its marketing campaign and promised to carry a referendum inside 5 years if it grew to become the occasion of presidency.
In this respect, it adopted the identical technique as many different pro-independence events and actions throughout Europe. Our analysis analysed the sorts of constitutional claims made by such organisations in paperwork equivalent to manifestos, coverage papers and press releases. We discovered that requires independence had elevated over the past decade, with a better emphasis on making the optimistic case for creating a brand new state.
But such a technique misjudged the priorities of Welsh voters on the time, which was restoration from the COVID pandemic, moderately than main constitutional change. COVID-related challenges are much less more likely to be so dominant subsequent time spherical. Welsh independence continues to be solely supported by a minority of voters. Constitutional reform stays very low on the record of points which might be vital to individuals.
The Scottish National Party’s (SNP) failed efforts to safe the authorized proper to carry one other independence referendum have additionally proven that there is no such thing as a straightforward method ahead for many who wish to depart the UK. With the SNP struggling to set out a reputable technique for obtain independence, there’s little prospect that Plaid Cymru will discover many new votes by making this its central electoral providing.
Many of those that do help Welsh independence, are additionally Labour voters. And there is no such thing as a signal that they’re keen to ditch their allegiance and change to supporting Plaid Cymru as a substitute.
On the opposite, opinion polls recommend Welsh Labour is more likely to improve its share of the vote within the 2024 basic election and stay the biggest occasion within the Senedd when it’s re-elected. This is despite the difficulties that the Welsh Labour-led Welsh authorities is going through within the areas it’s liable for, such because the NHS.
There is far that may (and can seemingly) change between now, subsequent 12 months and 2026. Plaid Cymru – like different pro-independence events, together with the SNP – has all the time needed to strike a steadiness between advancing its long-term constitutional objective and specializing in extra urgent challenges.
And voters might but lose religion in Welsh Labour and its observe document in authorities. It’s additionally anticipated that Welsh Labour will contest the following election below a brand new chief. First minister Mark Drakeford has already confirmed his intention to face down. Plus the elections will happen for a a lot bigger Senedd (which can see the variety of members rise from 60 to 96), and below a brand new electoral system.
Changing how the Senedd is elected was one of many commitments within the co-operation settlement signed between Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru in 2021. The events agreed to work collectively on a variety of coverage areas, with out Plaid having to formally enter authorities as a part of a coalition.
Plaid Cymru will hope that different coverage adjustments achieved on account of that settlement will present voters it may be trusted to manipulate for Wales and ship radical change. These have included extending free college meals to youngsters in major faculties and new measures to deal with the customarily destructive affect of second properties on communities, particularly in coastal and rural areas.
In the modified Welsh political context of 2026, there may very well be alternatives for Plaid Cymru to reposition itself because the occasion of Wales. It has main organisational and strategic challenges to deal with earlier than it may possibly achieve this, and it has to maneuver rapidly to deal with them.
But even when it resolves these, it’s not clear that Welsh voters can be persuaded that it’s time to finish the electoral hegemony of Welsh Labour, who’ve been in energy since 1999. In having to compete towards such an opponent, Rhun ap Iorwerth’s Plaid Cymru faces an electoral problem that’s distinctive amongst Europe’s pro-independence events.
Anwen Elias receives funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.
Elin Royles receives funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as a part of the WISERD Civil Society Research Project. The foundation of the analysis informing this text was EU Horizon 2020 funding.