Glasgow, Scotland – Talking about Scotland’s parliamentary elections is not about whether the party will win the government, but how much.
The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) has been leading the Scottish Parliament since 2007 and appears to be securing an unprecedented fourth term on 6 May, when Scots go to the polls to elect 129 MPs to the 22-year-old institution. .
“The constitutional issue still seems to be at the heart of Scottish politics,” Simon Pia, a Scottish Labor Party press adviser, told Al Jazeera, highlighting the long-standing polarizing political debate facing supporters of Scottish independence. against those who believe in the centennial place within the union of nations of the United Kingdom.
“But [there is] also a general support for the [SNP] The Scottish government and opposition criticism do not appear to be spreading on issues such as health and education. “
With opinion polls predicting a comfortable victory for the SNP, the party’s two closest rivals, Scottish Labor and Scottish Conservatives – both pro-union – have given up hope of winning the polls.
Instead, they focus their campaign energies on trying to deprive the SNP of a direct majority.
SNP leader and Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has led her party and the Scottish government for seven years, has recovered from the coronavirus pandemic and held another independence referendum and is at the center of her agenda. .
SNP sees second historical majority
In 2014, Scotland voted against independence by between 55 and 45%, but recent polls suggest that up to half of the nation’s electorate supports the condition of the Scottish state which, unlike voters in England , also decidedly chose to remain in the European Union EU Accession Referendum 2016.
In its 2021 manifesto, the SNP announced that it wanted to give “the people of Scotland the right to choose our own future in an independence referendum … once the immediate COVID crisis is over”.
A parliamentary majority would allow the SNP to easily win a vote in the Edinburgh-based parliament by holding a second pro-independence poll.
Due to the institution’s mixed electoral system, this has only been achieved once, in 2011.
Then the victory of 69 seats of the SNP caused that it was affirmed that it had pirated the system, but after ten years, another majority is within its reach.
However, the recent founding of the Alba party, led by former SNP leader and Prime Minister Alex Salmond, has complicated these efforts.
Alba aims to join the pro-independence numbers by achieving the so-called “supermajority” of parliamentarians who support independence.
Once firm friends and allies, Sturgeon and Salmond’s relationship broke down hopelessly after Salmond was accused of sexually assaulting several women.
Last year he was acquitted by an Edinburgh court, but Sturgeon has distanced himself from the recent political movement of his former mentor.
Despite some defections from Sturgeon’s party in Salmond, most SNP members and politicians have sought to break away from the Alba party which, according to opinion polls, could get a seat or two, thus depriving the SNP of most looking for.
“It simply came to our notice then [notion] of “supermajority”: it’s an invented word, “said Suzanne McLaughlin, who is running as the SNP’s candidate on the regional parliamentary voting list.
Currently, the SNP, with 61 seats, and the Scottish Green Party, with five, form a pro-independence majority in Edinburgh.
McLaughlin told Al Jazeera that a direct majority for his party, or at least a similar working majority with the Greens, would legitimize the SNP’s demands for a second vote on Scottish independence.
The Sturgeon-Johnson confrontation is approaching
However, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has repeatedly refused to sanction another referendum, is interfering with the SNP’s aspirations.
Although the Scottish Parliament has control of much of Scotland’s national agenda, the constitution remains the reservation of the UK government. to London.
A political clash between the two bitterly opposed prime ministers, center-left Sturgeon and the leader of the right-wing Conservative party, looks set to take place after the vote, the sixth such election in Scotland since the Scottish Parliament in 1999..
“They’ve had their referendum and they don’t have another,” Iain McGill, who has repeatedly defended the Scottish Conservative Party, told Al Jazeera.
“The SNP should be denied the majority they seek.”
McGill argued that the SNP’s electoral force, which also emerged as Scotland’s largest party in the 2019 general election, is because it was the only serious option for pro-independence voters.
He said union voters are divided between Scottish Labor, Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Liberal Democrats, while the SNP’s only rivals are the Scottish Greens.
That said, with Johnson currently surrounded by allegations of corruption and support for Scottish independence that often coincide with or outweigh support for the Union, the SNP is on track to win a new term.
“If the [pro-independence] there are figures, then the SNP has the right to seek a referendum, ”Pia of the Scottish Labor Party said.