Scottish Independence?
...It is time for Scotland.

Analysis of the Scottish election results

, by Anonymous

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Scottish Independence? ...It is time for Scotland.

50 years of Labour reign are over as the Scottish Nationalists win the Scottish Parliamentary elections. The future integrity of the British Union is seriously under threat as Alex Salmond’s party threw Jack McConnel’s Labour out by one seat.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) - party campaigning for Scottish independence - has finally been given a chance by the Scottish people, disillusioned by devolution and politics in general. But is this another protest vote against Tony Blair’s UK Labour Party, or is Scotland seriously advocating the break up of 300 years of Union?

It is still early hours to come to any conclusion, but what IS clear, is that Scotland has asked for change. The 3rd of May has been a historic day, with serious implications not only for Scotland, but for the whole UK.

Alex Salmond won with 47 seats over Labour’s 46 and the overall majority of votes in both the Constituency and Regional lists (additional member system). However, no party has reached a majority, meaning that unless the SNP form a minority government, they will have to start negotiations with other parties to form a coalition. This is Salmon’s preferred option as he realises the difficulties that a minority government would create. Salmond has already begun negotiations with the 2 green members and the 16 Liberal Democrats. With these two parties, the SNP would reach the number required to form a majority government.

The problem with the Liberal Democrats however, is that they are opposed to a referendum on Independence, which the SNP have scheduled for 2010. Nichol Stephen, leader of the Lib Dems, stated prior to the elections that he would refuse to enter a coalition with the nationalists unless they abandoned their referendum projects. The referendum on independence however is the raison d’etre of the SNP, and scrapping it would be unthinkable.

So what are the options?

One scenario would be to form a coalition with the Greens and Liberals for two - three years, dealing with the policy areas that the three parties wish to pursue, and then go their separate ways at that point, leaving the SNP to campaign for a referendum alone.

Another would be to abandon the independence issue as an executive subject, leaving it to a back bencher to bring it forward as a private member’s bill, with the coalition parties going their own ways on the matter.

However, this is assuming that the Parliament will give Alex Salmon and the SNP a vote of confidence and the approval to govern. If this were to fail, Labour, as the second largest party could take advantage and form a government with the Liberal Democrats. Scottish Labour believes that they are still in hope and still in a chance to govern, if the nationalists fail to gain the confidence of the Parliament.

Implications on Democracy?

It is generally agreed that Labour has now lost the moral authority to govern Scotland, losing many seats throughout the country. The SNP, with the majority of votes and seats are clearly the choice of the people, and should the other parties ignore this at a vote of confidence, serious issues of democracy would arise. Margot McDonald, an Independent MSP, has already made clear that she would support another Labour – Lib Dem Coalition, if Salmon failed to become First Minister. However, most parties have stated that they would support the winning party at the election at a vote of confidence.

It will therefore be fundamental for the SNP to bargain with the Liberals and Greens in the coming days, to ensure a coalition that can represent the voice of the people.


 Alex Salmond campaigning, source:Flickr

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