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In the News

The Scottish elections

Mike McCartney

31st March 2021

This year's poll is very likely to have important ramifications for the Union

And in a further fascinating twist (just when Scottish politics watchers had thought they had seen everything) this week, Alex Salmond's new Alba party now has more MSPs in Holyrood than Scottish Labour.

So what impact will the ex-First Minister's new party have on this year's devolved elections?

One of my all-time political heroes, John Curtice, Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, says:

“The risk to the SNP is that if Salmond gets 4% or 5% of the vote, particularly in those two crucial regions, and those come from the SNP, he may put them down a peg, lose them one or two seats and as a result make all the difference between an overall majority or not.”

A bit of background is useful here, and a bit of a refresher on the topic of electoral systems:

Under the Holyrood electoral system, 73 MSPs are elected to represent constituencies under a first-past-the-post ballot, with the SNP expected to win most of those seats in May. The remaining 56 MSPs are elected by a regional list system, designed to make the seat distribution more representative of the overall vote. In 2016, the SNP did so well in constituency voting that it won list seats in only two of the eight regions, south of Scotland and Highlands. Alba candidates will run only on the regional lists, which Salmond has argued would scoop up previously “wasted” list votes for the SNP.

All from The Guardian:

This could mean that the SNP are denied an overall majority, but bizarrely there could be a majority of MSPs returned to Holyrood on a pro-independence ticket.

Watch this space.

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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