AS YOU read this we’re just 24 hours away from learning who the new leader of the Welsh Labour – and presumptive new first minister – will be.

Mark Drakeford is still the bookies’ favourite, but it hasn’t quite been the coronation some of us feared when Carwyn Jones announced he was quitting eight long months ago. Both Vaughan Gething and Eluned Morgan have put in strong showings and some people much smarter than me are predicting it could be a pretty close race.

The powerful Corbynista pressure group Momentum has got behind Mr Drakeford in a big, even aggressive, way, and this could be enough to swing it in his favour.

But the real test will be if one candidate doesn’t get more than 50 per cent of the vote.

If this happens, the candidate with the lowest number of votes will be eliminated and the second-choice votes of those who picked them as their first choice – party members have been allowed to rank the candidates in order of preference on their ballot paper – will be counted instead.

If this happens, there’s a very good chance Mr Drakeford won’t win.

Anecdotally, the people who have picked either Mr Gething or Ms Morgan as their first choice have been likely to pick the other as their second as they’re both far more centrist than the Mr Drakeford, an openly old-school socialist.

And, if the vote is as close as some have been predicting, this might be more likely than some expect.

Ever since Carwyn Jones announced at the Labour conference in April he was stepping down as first minister, many have been talking of a Mark Drakeford-led Welsh Government as an inevitability.

Mr Drakeford has long been seen as the heir apparent to both Carwyn Jones and his own political mentor Rhodri Morgan, and the number of nominations he received meant it was difficult for anyone else to even get their names on the ballot paper. If Carwyn Jones himself hadn’t stepped in to lend Eluned Morgan his nomination it would have been a two-horse race.

This – along with reports of a few other dirty tricks on the part of the pro-Drakeford camp, such as encouraging voters not to name a second or third preference – have alienated more than a few in Welsh Labour, and could be enough to push those on the fence away from him into the arms of one of his competitors.

So, while a Mark Drakeford victory seemed to almost be a done deal a few months ago, this looks much less the case now.

Of course, we have to remember the winner is not necessarily guaranteed to be appointed as the new first minister.

A vote will be held in the Senedd in this regard next week, and I understand both Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives will put their respective leaders Adam Price and Paul Davies up for the role.

While the maths in the Assembly means Labour’s candidate - whether it’s Mark Drakeford, Vaughan Gething or Eluned Morgan - will get the role, the voting record will be scrutinised with interest.

Meanwhile, the circumstances of Carwyn Jones’ departure appear to be far from what he was hoping for.

He’d said repeatedly he wanted to make a decision on the M4 relief road before he leaves office - which we learned yesterday now isn’t going to happen.

And Mr Jones also reportedly wanted the inquiry into the circumstances around the death of Carl Sargeant last November done and dusted before he stepped down so he could leave office with a clean record and a clear conscience.

But there’s no sign of this being anywhere near done - with the inquest into the former minister’s death adjourned last week so Mr Jones can return and give more evidence - so it won’t be until he’s a lowly backbench AM that this happens.

In April it looked like Mr Jones was hoping he’d be able to leave with his head held high.

Sadly for him, it seems like this will be far from the case.