This paper will examine Plaid Cymru's experience in government from 2007 to 2011. Drawing on literature on autonomist parties, parties in government for the first time, and Strøm and Müller's policy/office/votes framework, the paper examines where strategic 'trade-offs’ were made and what the consequences of such trade-offs were. The paper takes a qualitative approach, using semi-structured interview and documentary data. The paper finds that Plaid Cymru valued the policy-seeking potential of office at the expense of vote-seeking ones because of the importance of 'autonomist' goals, namely the 2011 referendum which saw primary law-making powers granted to the Welsh Assembly. Furthermore, the experience of governmental office exposed organizational vulnerabilities in the party's leadership structures which undermined the ability to construct an effective vote-winning strategy at the 2011 Welsh election, where the party lost four seats.
- Plaid Cymru, devolution, autonomist parties, government, party elites , political parties