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Nationalist Victory Expected to Lead to Vote for Scottish Independence

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TEHRAN, May 4 (ICANA) – The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) is heading to increase its share of the vote and retain power in Thursday's election to the devolved Scottish parliament, opening the way for an eventual referendum for independence from England.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011 8:45:27 PM
Nationalist Victory Expected to Lead to Vote for Scottish Independence

The election is among several being held across the UK, including for the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies, a series of councils and a referendum on voting reform for the British parliament, which according to opinion polls is expected to be defeated.

The latest poll for Scottish Television on Tuesday night showed increased support for the SNP and a fallback for Labour, which had been hoping to become the biggest party again in Scotland after losing the last devolved elections in 2007.

Projections suggested that the nationalists could win 61 of the 129 seats in the Edinburgh-based parliament, up from 47 four years ago, when it claimed a historic victory to gain power for the first time as a minority government.

Labour, which formed coalition governments with the Liberal Democrats in the first two elections since devolution in 1999, was expected to win only 32 seats, down from 46 in 2009, while the Conservatives were forecast to marginally increase their number from 17 to 18 seats.

In terms of share of the vote, indications were that the Lib Dems would be the biggest losers after being discredited by going into coalition with the Conservatives in the British parliament, winning only nine of the 17 seats they previously held.

One of the biggest winners in the transformed Scottish parliament was expected to be the Greens with up to eight seats or more compared to just two in 2007.

With such a result, the SNP would be able to push their flagship independence referendum though the Scottish Parliament, although party leader and First Minister Alex Salmond has said he would delay any such national poll until the second half of the four year term, pushing it to 2014 at the earliest.

In Wales, latest opinion polls suggest that the main issue will be whether Labour, currently in coalition with the Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru, will be able to win enough seats in the 60-seat Cardiff-based assembly to gain an overall majority.

In Northern Ireland, the main question was whether Sinn Fein, the republican party, could continue to make encroachments to further close its gap with the pro-British Democrat Unionists (DUP), who between then dominate the power-sharing assembly in Belfast.

Most interest in the coinciding national referendum on the method of electing MPs to the British parliament has been on the divisions in the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government taking opposing stances rather than the limited choice of retaining the country's traditional first-past-the-post (FPTP) system or switching to an alternative vote (AV) scheme.

Opinion polls suggest that the move, offered as a concession to the Lib Dems to join the coalition last year, is likely to be defeated and could exacerbate their relations in government with the Conservatives.

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