Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood to fight constituency seat

The Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood admits she is taking a risk by standing for a constituency seat at the next assembly election.

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Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood will gamble her safe seat in the Welsh assembly at the next election to help her party break new ground.

She will give up her position as a regional AM to stand in a constituency seat in 2016.

Plaid insiders say it is part of a strategy of "going for broke" to get into government.

She has not named the seat she wants to contest, saying it will depend on decisions taken by grassroots members.

'Bold move'

The assembly has 40 first-past-the post constituency members and 20 regional members.

Candidates are barred from standing for a constituency and in one of the five electoral regions at the same election.

Analysis

Leanne Wood stresses that Plaid's members pick its candidates.

So it would be "presumptuous" for her to tell us where she wants to stand in the 2016 election.

But there will inevitably be speculation about possible seats and the implications for Plaid.

When Ms Wood became Plaid's leader, her supporters hoped she could beat Labour on its own turf.

Perhaps the Rhondda, her home seat, would be a natural choice?

Local AM and Education Minister Leighton Andrews, who won more than 63% of the vote last time around, stands in her way.

Caerphilly, in the neighbouring region, has been a Plaid target. But winning it will mean overturning a Labour majority of almost 5,000.

Either would be a big scalp for Plaid. Perhaps that underlines what a risk she is taking by giving up a bankable seat as a regional member.

Her position at the top of Plaid's list for the South Wales Central region gives Ms Wood a reasonably safe route into the assembly.

But in a lecture at Aberystwyth University she will announce that she is giving up the seat to try to win a constituency seat.

She will also invite potential candidates from outside the party to stand for Plaid and announce plans for a so-called "wiki-manifesto" - with contributions from voters - based on a "million conversations" with the public.

Ms Wood told BBC Wales: "I'm putting forward myself for a constituency seat because I really believe that Plaid Cymru can win these elections and do very well.

"If we are going to become the biggest party in the assembly - and I've already said that's what we need to do as a party to develop ourselves - then two-thirds of the seats that are constituency seats need to be fought and won by this party.

"If we are going to do that and we are going to do that seriously then we need to take bold steps in order to do that and by standing for a constituency seat today I'm making the bold move that we need to see in Wales."

She declined to name a seat, saying party members chose candidates.

Plaid won 11 seats at the last election, making it the third biggest party behind Labour and Conservatives, who have 30 and 14 AMs respectively.

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