Is Labour rule under threat in Wales?

Party leaders from left to right: Carwyn Jones, Andrew RT Davies, Leanne Wood, Kirsty Williams and Nathan Gill Image copyright Getty Images/BBC
Image caption Party leaders are hoping for a good result

Virtually everyone I speak to who has been involved in the Welsh assembly election admits it has been difficult to get a handle on.

The uncertainty facing thousands of Welsh jobs in the steel industry has become a dominant theme.

And the profile given to the EU referendum has made it difficult for the parties to cut through.

As a result, there are fears of a lower turnout than five years ago, when just 42% of people voted.

The opposition parties wanted a campaign dominated by scrutiny of Labour's 17 years in power since the start of devolution.

Instead, it has lacked continuity.

Labour has based its campaign on the personality of its leader, Carwyn Jones, by asking voters who they think would make the best first minister.

One of the big challenges the party faces is appearing fresh after so many years in government in Cardiff.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The future of the Port Talbot steelworks has dominated the election campaign

The Conservatives, who have been the main opposition, are focusing on problems in health, as well as offering significant tax breaks when partial control of income tax is devolved.

They have had to overcome divisions over Europe to try to keep the momentum they generated in Wales as a result of some eye-catching victories in the general election last year.

Plaid Cymru has set out plans for a major restructuring of public services, including the NHS, in an attempt to integrate health and social care.

The party needs to develop some kind of momentum after a number of recent disappointing election results despite the high profile given to its leader, Leanne Wood.

The Liberal Democrats have run a campaign stripped down to a small number of pledges, including more nurses and smaller class sizes.

The party's obvious challenge is convincing people it can bounce back from the devastating result in the general election.

And UKIP, who could have a significant presence at the assembly for the first time, has published a detailed manifesto on devolved services such as health and education in an attempt to show it is serious about the assembly, and not just about Europe.

Welsh Labour manifesto

Welsh Conservative manifesto

Plaid Cymru manifesto

Welsh Liberal Democrats manifesto

UKIP Wales manifesto

Image copyright RIBA

National Assembly for Wales election 2011:

  • Labour: 28 constituency seats, 2 regional seats
  • Conservative: 6 constituency seats, 8 regional seats
  • Plaid Cymru: 5 constituency seats, 6 regional seats
  • Liberal Democrats: 1 constituency seat, 4 regional seats

The big question mark is whether its supporters, who are clearly motivated by the EU referendum, can be enthused enough to turn out for the assembly election on 5 May.

Labour has half of the 60 seats at the assembly.

Polls over the past 18 months have suggested it is running about 10 percentage points down, which will make it vulnerable in a number of marginal seats held by the Tories at a parliamentary level.

The indications are Labour will continue to be the largest party, the question is whether it will have enough assembly members to govern alone or have to form a coalition with another party.

The impact of UKIP in marginal seats has introduced a new degree of unpredictability, while the prospect of a low turnout means the outcome could be decided by relatively low margins.

Unlike in Scotland, where the SNP appears to be on track for an overall majority, the picture in Wales is far more uncertain.

Other parties standing in multiple regions

Wales Green Party

Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party

Monster Raving Loony Party

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Welsh Communist Party

For full listings of all candidates standing in Wales, use our Constituency and Region pages.

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