Assembly Gender Balance to go.

The National Assembly has gained plaudits since its inception eight years ago for its gender balance. It is believed to be the only institution of its type in the world that has a 50 / 50 male / female balance. But things will change after next week's election.

In the constituencies there are eight female candidates who's main challenge comes from another female candidate: Trish Law, Kirsty Williams, Jenny Randerson, Lorraine Barrett, Christine Chapman, Sandy Mewies, Catherine Thomas and Janice Gregory. Even if some of these candidates lose, another woman AM is most likely to replace them.

There are 12 constituency seats where the main challenge to sitting female AMs comes from men.

There are only three women who are virtually guaranteed to beat off their male challengers Lynne Neagle in Torfaen, Rosemary Butler in Newport West and Gwenda Thomas in Neath. Having said that Islwyn in 1999, and Blaenau Gwent and Ceridigion in 2005 have shown that there is no such thing as a 100% safe seat in Wales.

Edwina Heart is probably safe in the Gower, but Plaid did come close here in 1999 so she might face a threat from Plaid's Darren Price if Plaid has an extremely good night. In Ceredigion Elin Jones is facing a challenge from Lib Dem man John Davies but will probably be safe. Karen Sinclare is likely to be returned for Clwyd South as is Ann Jones in the Vale of Clwyd although both could be vulnerable to Tory men on a particularly good night for the Tories. In Preseli Pembrokeshire Tamsin Dunwoody could be ousted by either Plaid's John Osmond, or the Conservatives' Paul Davies

Plaid won Islwyn in 1999 if this is repeated again this year then woman Irene James will be out and man Alan Pritchard will be in. Pontypridd is the sort of place that Plaid could win, the party has had some success here in the past, so Jane Davidson could be replaced by Plaid man Richard Grigg. Sue Essex has retired from the Assembly and has been replaced by another female candidate Sophie Howe, Conservative man Jonathan Morgan has high hopes of winning this one. Another Conservative man, Gordon Kemp is fairly confident of ousting Jane Hutt from her Vale of Glamorgan seat. Christine Gwyther in Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire could be lost to Plaid man John Dixon and in Aberconwy Denise Idris Jones is almost certain to be beaten either by Plaid's Gareth Jones or the Conservatives' Dylan Jones-Evans.

Rhondda is the only constituency where a sitting male AM is facing a real challenge from a female candidate. But only a true Plaid believer (like me) would put this one in the bag for the woman.

On the lists it is probably safe to assume that those women who currently occupy first and second places will retain their seats they are: Janet Ryder, Leanne Wood, Jocelyn Davies and Bethan Jenkins (replacing retiring AM Janet Davies). Although Elinor Burnham is in 4th place in North Wales, constituency gains by Plaid and or the Conservatives in the region will probably consolidate her seat. If the Conservatives make any gains in South Wales East Laura Ann Jones is vulnerable, she could be replaced by females Veronica Watkins of the Lib Dems and at a scrape the Greens' Ann Were, however Plaid man Mohammad Asghar or Labour man Mark Whitcutt are more likely to replace her.

In Mid and West Wales women AMs are currently in third and fourth place. Plaid's Helen Mary Jones who is not standing on the list this time and the Conservatives' Lisa Francis. If Plaid and / or the Tories make gains in the constituencies then Labour man Alun Davies is likely to take one of these seats. If Lisa Francis was to lose it is difficult to judge which party would replace her but as the "next in line" on the big three's lists are females and as the Green Party is fielding a female as top candidate then it will probably be another woman.

It seems probable that at least 5 and possibly as many as 15 women could lose their Assembly places to men in this election. However the parties fare, the big looser come next Friday will be the Assembly's reputation for gender balance.

Most Welsh political bloggers are men. For a female take on Welsh politics see Valleys Mam and Bethan Jenkins


  1. very interesting and thoughtful analysis. I wonder if the boys from the blogstuff will have enough interest to comment Thats if they are up yet after their meet last night

  2. "There are only three women who are virtually guaranteed to beat off their male challengers"

    I hope I'm the only one with the childish mind here.

  3. "I wonder if the boys from the blogstuff will have enough interest to comment"

    Indeed. I wrote a similar analysis myself back in February!!

  4. The Greens aren't going to win any seats are they? That will lower the Assembly's IQ rating by a few points/

  5. Indeed. I wrote a similar analysis myself back in February!!
    analysis ------------not even 15 lines yeh