Kate Middleton and William: Sturgeon quizzed on tour of Scotland
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Scotland has finished at the polls and the counting has begun in one of the most important Scottish Parliament elections for a generation. Scots have voted to elect MSP’s for the Scottish Parliament in what is largely being interpreted as a shadow vote on a second independence referendum.
Nicola Sturgeon is almost certain to return as First Minister based on the latest polls but is looking for an all-important majority to give the SNP the mandate to run a possible de facto referendum in the first half of the five year parliamentary term.
The result of Thursday’s polling is likely to put Scotland on the trajectory of breaking away from its 314-year-old union with the rest of the United Kingdom.
Results are due to come in over Friday and Saturday, as coronavirus safety measures ruled out the traditional overnight count.
Votes in 46 of the 73 constituency seats began being counted at about 9am, with the first results expected from noon today.
It is anticipated all 46 should be declared by Friday evening.
From about 9am on Saturday, the remaining 27 constituency seats will be counted.
Following this, the regional seats will be allocated and the process will be complete.
Ms Sturgeon needs at least 65 seats to form a majority in the Scottish Parliament and to avoid having to create a coalition with another party.
Polling expert Sir John Curtice said this morning there is a 50 percent chance the SNP will gain the majority they need.
He said: “They suggest on average the SNP are running at 49 percent of the constituency vote, although much lower – about 38 percent – on the regional list.
“The Conservatives are narrowly ahead of Labour – about 22 points to 21 – on the constituency vote, but the Conservatives enjoy a comfortable four-point lead on the list vote.
“That is going to be the crucial one so far as seats are concerned.
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“It looks as though the Greens are heading for a record performance – they have been running at around 10 percent in the final polls.
“The Lib Dems are bouncing around at six or seven points, while the Alba party under Alex Salmond are running at about three.
“If you take all the numbers and play the dangerous game of trying to predict what the outcome might be, you get to 64 SNP seats, which means there is a 50 percent chance they might get an overall majority, and equally a 50 percent chance they might fail.
“It is probably going to turn on the outcome in nine really marginal opposition-held seats – some held by the Conservatives, some held by Labour but all of them with majorities of less than five points.
“It is probably going to be a question of how many of those seats the SNP manage to pick up, and that’s the one thing you can’t tell from national polls.”
The electorate in Scotland this year is the largest ever for a Scottish Parliament vote.
Some 4.2m people registered to vote – up by 180,000 on the figure for 2016.
This is in part due to the eligibility to vote being extended to new groups, such as refugees and prisoners serving a sentence of less than one year.
A record number of voters cast their ballots prior to polling day – with more than a million Scots having registered to vote by post.
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