• Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

Fourth win for the SNP with calls for second independence referendum

ByKate Sinclair

May 10, 2021
Image shows polling place sign.

The Scottish National Party is celebrating the party’s fourth consecutive victory in the Scottish parliament election after winning a near majority of 64 seats. 

In Scotland’s highest ever electoral turnout, with around 63 per cent of the electorate voting, the SNP fell short of just one seat needed to secure a majority at Holyrood but nevertheless confirmed its support after winning a greater share of seats than in 2016. 

Despite winning three more constituency seats than in the last election, the party lost seats in two regional areas. 

Despite losing a seat in Ayr to the SNP, the Scottish Conservatives still held onto their position as Scotland’s opposition party after strategically targeting regional seats. 

The Scottish Labour Party failed to pick up momentum, winding up in third place, whilst the Scottish Liberal Democrats were allocated just four seats after failing to secure any seats on the regional list.

Addressing the country, newly re-elected First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, spoke of the Scottish electorate voting to give pro-independence parties a majority in the Scottish parliament – a nod to the party’s intention of holding a second independence referendum. 

Sturgeon acknowledged the SNP’s “clear commitment to an independence referendum within the next parliamentary term”. 

The Scottish Green Party, who won a total of eight seats in the election has also made a commitment to holding a second independence referendum. 

With the Scottish voting system designed to prevent a one-party parliamentary majority, the allocation of seats to the Greens through the regional list system has nevertheless provided the SNP with the support it will need to push for a second independence referendum.

Holyrood’s pro-independence majority comes in light of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s, criticism of holding a second independence referendum, stating that to do so would be “irresponsible and reckless”. 

Sturgeon finished her address to the country by arguing that, if the Conservatives do attempt to block a vote on independence, “they will demonstrate conclusively that the UK is not a partnership of equals.”

Regardless, Nicola Sturgeon made clear her priority to tackle the pandemic first, accepting the prime minister’s invitation to a Covid-19 recovery summit to address issues such as NHS waiting lists, lost education, and economic recovery. 

Johnson has called for a continued “spirit of unity and cooperation” in navigating the pandemic

Sturgeon has said that her government’s focus will be on kickstarting “an ambitious and transformative programme” for recovery. 

The new parliament is also set to be Scotland’s most diverse. 

The SNP’s Kaukab Stewart, and the Scottish Conservative’s Pam Gosal made history by becoming the first women of colour to win seats in the Scottish parliament, whilst Holyrood will also see 58 female MSPs – its highest number yet.

Speaking about the election result and what it means for the future of Scotland, politics undergraduate student at the University of Edinburgh, Eva Smith told The Student that she believed “independence is upcoming”.

“Despite the SNP not having a majority, the fact that Nicola Sturgeon has the largest support a political leader has had in years, proves that independence is upcoming. 

“Boris Johnson and Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, may argue against there not being another election due to not gaining a majority, but it’s Scotland’s democratic right and Sturgeon has the support and the fight to bring independence.”

Image: Kate Sinclair

By Kate Sinclair

Politics student and Features editor at The Student. Interested in environmental politics and social justice.