Scotland’s governing Scottish National Party was on course on Saturday to win its fourth straight parliamentary election and very close to securing a majority that would enable it to make a push for another referendum on independence from the U.K.
With 60 constituencies counted, the SNP had won 51 of the 129 seats and was clearly on course to extend its dominance of Scottish politics. However, given Scotland’s electoral system, also allocates some seats by a form of proportional representation, the party may fall short of the 65 seats it would need in the Edinburgh-based Parliament to have a majority.
In Wales, the concluded vote count showed the Labour Party doing better than expected in the parliamentary election as it extended its 22 years in control of the Welsh government.
Ballots continue to be counted from local elections in England, which already have been particularly good for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party. But it’s the Scottish election that could have the biggest U.K.-wide implications by fast-tracking another referendum on Scotland’s future within the U.K.
Were the SNP to win a majority, its leader, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, would argue that she has a mandate to call another referendum.
Speaking after winning her seat in Glasgow on Friday, Ms. Sturgeon said her immediate priority would be to deal with the pandemic and “then when the time is right to offer this country the choice of a better future.”
Scotland has been part of the U.K. since 1707 and the issue of Scottish independence appeared settled when Scottish voters rejected secession by 55%-45% in a 2014 referendum. But the U.K.-wide decision in 2016 to leave the European Union ran against the wishes of most Scots — 62% voted in favor of staying within the bloc while most voters in England and Wales wanted to leave. That gave the Scottish nationalist cause fresh legs.