Wales is getting the first Black leader in Europe

The Welsh Labour party elected Vaughan Gething as its new leader, making the 50-year-old politician the first Black head of government in Europe. 

Gething will be confirmed as first minister next week, after a highly divisive leadership contest that pitted the former health and economy minister against Education Minister Jeremy Miles. The contest followed the surprise resignation of Mark Drakeford in December 2023.

Winning 51.7 percent of the vote on Saturday, the new leader promised to meet the deep challenges facing Wales, including a cost-of-living crisis, angry farmers and sluggish healthcare and education systems.

“Today, we turn a page in the book of our nation’s history. A history we write together. Not just because I have the honour of becoming the first Black leader in any European country — but because the generational dial has jumped too,” he told party members.

Born in the former British colony of Zambia, Gething is the son of a white veterinarian from south Wales and a Black chicken farmer from Lusaka. His parents moved the family to Wales when he was two and later settled in England after suffering racism in the Welsh countryside. 

With Britain facing a general election this year, Gething will be an important player in the Labour Party’s bid to end 14 years of Conservative rule. “We look forward to campaigning with Vaughan in this new chapter for Wales, to deliver Labour governments across Britain,” wrote national party leader Keir Starmer on X.


For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Poll of Polls.