News ID: 90003
Publish Date : 08 May 2021 - 22:04
LONDON (AP) — Counting resumed Saturday in Scotland’s parliamentary election with the governing Scottish National Party very close to securing a majority that would see it make a push for another independence referendum.
With 49 constituencies counted, the SNP had won 40 seats and is clearly on course to win its fourth straight term in office. However, given the country’s electoral system, which also allocates some seats by a form of proportional representation, it may fall short of the 65 seats it would need in the Edinburgh-based parliament to have a majority.
Ballots also continue to be counted in the Welsh parliamentary election and a swath of local elections in England. But it’s the Scottish election that could have the biggest UK-wide implications as it could fast-track another referendum on its future within the UK.
Were the SNP to win a majority, its leader, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, would argue that she has a mandate to call another referendum. Were the party to fall short, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has the ultimate power to allow a referendum, could argue that she didn’t. On Saturday, he wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper that another referendum would be "irresponsible and reckless” in the "current context” as Britain emerges from the coronavirus crisis.
Speaking after winning her seat in Glasgow on Friday, Sturgeon said her immediate priority would be to deal with the pandemic and "then when the time is right to offer this country the choice of a better future.”
Scotland has been part of the UK since 1707 and the issue of Scottish independence appeared settled when Scottish voters rejected secession by 55%-45% in a 2014 referendum. But the UK-wide decision in 2016 to leave the European Union ran against the wishes of most Scots — 62% voted in favor of staying within the bloc while most voters in England and Wales wanted to leave. That gave the Scottish nationalist cause fresh legs.
Scotland’s deputy first minister, John Swinney, said that the party would still have the right to call an election if it fell short but enough other pro-independence members were elected, such as from the Scottish Greens.
"I’m very confident that will be the case,” he told the BBC.
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