A Level Politics

Improving your grade

Scottish Independence? Part III

Posted by Matt Walker on September 5, 2009

Murray_Flag_ It seems that with a referendum to be held in 2010, Scotland will soon be leaving the  UK family, consigning Great Britain to the dustbin of history. Gordon Brown will need a visa to be our prime minister, tennis pundits will no longer  claim that the world’s number two is British, and Scottish athletes will be on foreign turf at the 2012 London Olympics.

Actually this sounds more like an alternative universe scenario found in Doctor Who. It is highly unlikely that there will be a referendum at all, let alone independence in the near future. This is because the SNP, the  ruling party, do not have a majority in the Scottish Parliament.  They are a minority government – they have fewer parliamentary seats than their opponents combined.

The reason for this is that Scottish elections are fought using the Additional Member System (AMS). This system is proportional, which means that unlike in UK elections, the number of seats a party gains roughly equals the percentage of the vote they receive.  In 2007, the SNP won 47 seats out of 129 and no other party wanted to join them in a coalition which would give the government a majority of seats. So the SNP went it alone.

In order to pass its laws, the SNP needs the support of other parties in  the parliament, and as no other party supports independence, it seems unlikely that the SNP will get their referendum. So you can still cheer on Andy Murray if you like. For now.

Click on the links for more detail.

2007 Scottish election result

Alex Salmond becomes First Minister

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