As already indicated in the polls, the Scottish Prime Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, led her Scottish National Party (SNP) to another victory in the elections on Thursday (6). Until early Saturday afternoon (8), however, it was unclear whether success would be enough to secure his promise to hold a second UK independence referendum.
With 52 of the seats in the Scottish Parliament already defined, the SNP had won 43, compared to only 9 for the other parties combined. To obtain a majority, it must reach 65 (Parliament has 129 seats), which has only happened once in the history of the House.
A landslide victory is seen as essential for Nicola’s intentions to convene by 2023 – “if the pandemic permits” – a new plebiscite on Scottish independence, to which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is opposed.
Popular consultation is only possible with the permission of the British government, and Boris has already warned that he has no intention of granting it. Two months ago, he called this assumption “totally inadequate, irrelevant and unnecessary”.
An indisputable result could, however, put the Prime Minister under pressure. It was the unprecedented majority won by the SNP in 2011 that forced the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at the time, David Cameron (also of the Conservative Party, like Boris), to accept in 2012 the realization of the first plebiscite, which took place in 2014.
It is not clear where the current wind of Scottish public opinion is blowing in relation to the separation from England. In the first consultation, the majority of Scots voted to stay in the UK. But an even larger share of them wanted to stay in the European Union, and the mood changed after the referendum in which Brexit scratched in 2016.
Pro-European Scots have felt betrayed and the nationalistic sentiment of a section of the population who sees England favored by the central government has intensified, to the detriment of the three other nations of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
When hopes of a Brexit review were buried by a re-election of Boris in 2019, the pro-independence Scots became the majority. The situation lasted until last month. In recent weeks, polls have indicated a technical draw: 51% against; 49% for.
Part of that result, analysts say, is due to Boris Johnson’s success with vaccination. The British Prime Minister argues that the pandemic has proven the importance of cohesion between Scotland and England. Other hypotheses are the fear of the flight of companies or the creation of a hard border with England.
There are also important practical barriers that make separation difficult, such as the high Scottish government deficit, the difficulty of creating an independent currency and military opposition, since Scotland is home to important NATO bases (North Atlantic Military Alliance).
Moreover, the reintroduction into the European Union – one of the reasons for the greatest frustration of anti-Conservative Scots – is neither automatic nor one-sided. This would depend on the conditions negotiated with the European bloc and could take several years.
However, these are all long term problems. In the coming days, the SNP will have to decide on the best strategy to get a new referendum outside the UK. Since 2016, he ruled the country alone, in a minority government supported by the Greens during the main votes.
One option now would be to form a pro-independence coalition – with the Greens themselves and / or with the newly created Alba of former Scottish Prime Minister Alex Salmond. According to the polls, they should win xx and xx chairs respectively.
The political costs of each of the allies vary considerably. A poll by the YouGov Institute of SNP supporters a week before the election showed that a coalition with the Greens would leave 72% “delighted / satisfied”, but 55% said they would be “disappointed / dismayed” “if the union was with Alba.
One of the possible causes of public reluctance to research independence is Salmond’s statements deemed radical, such that plebiscites can be held without British permission. An illegal consultation or an unsuccessful dispute in the Supreme Court would backfire on the Scottish Prime Minister, who must play by the rules of the game if she is to be accepted as a member of the European Union in the future.
The former prime minister also attacked the SNP in the campaign, describing Alba as the only party serious about the split and calling the vote for Nicola “a waste”. We are a family business.
The Greens, meanwhile, have made progress among young voters and have already said they are ready to talk about a formal coalition if the SNP embraces its platforms. During the last term, his support influenced policies such as free school meals and bans on expelling people during the pandemic.
“In London, the Prime Minister’s advisers are already repeating their lines for the war of words that will follow the elections,” said Mujtaba Rahman, executive director of the risk analysis consultancy Europe in Eurasia. “Johnson will save time by arguing that it is unwise to distract a plebiscite during a pandemic,” he wrote in an analysis on the Politico news website.
The analyst also predicts that the UK government will try to convince Scottish voters with billionaire investments in roads, railways and other infrastructure projects. On the other hand, says Rahman, “repeatedly denying that the plebiscite is playing Sturgeon’s game, fueling nationalism and further strengthening support for independence.”
UNDERSTANDING THE ISSUE OF INDEPENDENCE
How do Scottish Parliament elections work?
Voting is optional. Registered voters aged 16 and over have two votes: one for a constituent parliamentarian, in which the most voted candidates win, and one for a regional representative. There are 73 seats for voters and 56 for elected representatives in the eight regions, which represents 129 seats in Parliament.
What are the tasks of the Scottish Parliament?
These elected officials pass laws on aspects of life in Scotland, such as health, education and transport, and have certain powers over tax and social benefits.
What does the election have to do with independence?
If they hold a majority in the Scottish Parliament, the separatist parties must restart the campaign for a new referendum on the issue. More than a simple victory, the magnitude of the advantage obtained matters, since the popular consultation only takes place with the authorization of the British government, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared that it will not happen ” once per generation “.
What does it mean not to be independent?
The country remains subject to the British Parliament in the areas of foreign affairs, foreign trade, defense, national civil service, economic and monetary policy, social security, employment, energy regulation, most fiscal aspects and some aspects of transport. The Scottish Head of Government is the British Prime Minister (currently Boris Johnson) and the Head of State is the British Monarch (currently Elizabeth 2nd). Scotland elects 59 Members of Parliament to the House of Commons and appoints members to the House of Lords.
Haven’t the Scots already said no to independence?
In 2014, 55.3% voted against UK independence and 44.7% in favor. However, a much larger proportion of Scots were against Brexit: in 2016, 62% of them were against leaving the European Union. With the Brexit victory across the UK, the independence debate has gained momentum. Supporters for a new consultation reached 55% last year. More recent polls show a technical tie, with 47% against and 45% for.
MEETINGS AND DISCOUNTS IN SCOTLAND AND ENGLAND
5th century AD – The Celtic peoples of Ireland settled on the west coast of Great Britain, and the area is now known as Scotia (land of the Scots, in Latin). Research indicates the amalgamation of four peoples (Picts, Scots, British and Angles)
2nd and 3rd centuries BC – The Roman Empire built barriers, like Hadrian’s Wall, isolating the Scots from their English dominions
8th to 12th century – Viking invasions
13th to 16th centuries – Anglo-Scottish conflicts begin and Scotland begins to seek self-sufficiency and alliances with mainland Europe
1502 – Scottish King James 4 concludes a “perpetual peace treaty” with Henry 7 of England
1572 – Queen Elizabeth 1st arrests in England the Catholic Queen of Scotland, ensuring the stability of reformist James 6th
1603 – James 6th becomes James 1st of England
1652 – England imposes a complete parliamentary union on Scotland, broken up a few years later; Scotland’s political and cultural assimilation to England is growing
1707 – Scotland merges with England to integrate the United Kingdom of Great Britain
1934 – The Scottish National Party (SNP) is created
1949 – Scottish Pact demanding national government in Scotland receives 2 million signatures, but nationalism is suppressed
1979 – Failed attempt to create a Scottish assembly with limited legislative and executive powers
1999 – The new Scottish Parliament is elected – the first since 1707
2007 – SNP wins majority of seats (47) in Scottish Parliament
2012 – SNP gets UK approval to vote on Scottish independence
2014 – Scottish independence rejected in plebiscite
2016 – Brexit approved by most Brits, with 62% Scottish opposition
2019 – SNP wins 13 additional seats in UK Parliament, reaching 48, including 7 from the Tories; Sturgeon vows to call another independence referendum if re-elected to Scottish Parliament
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica