First Minister Nicola Surgeon's Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) has won Thursday's elections but was kept one seat from a parliamentary majority of its own after vote counting ended Saturday, it was reported.
The SNP has won 64 seats, still one short of a majority but nevertheless one better than in 2016. The Scottish voting system was specifically designed to prevent any one party having a majority in the 129-seat parliament - although the SNP did manage to do so in the 2011 election.
In any case, with the seats held by the Greens, pro-independence parties combined have indeed won a parliamentary majority to call for a second independence referendum and sparks from the inevitable clash with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson can already be seen from afar as Scotland's 314-year union with England and Wales might be once again at stake.
As a matter of fact, Sturgeon has already announced she would push ahead with the referendum plans once the covid-19 pandemic was over and warned it would be absurd and outrageous if Johnson were to try to ignore the democratic will of the people. There is simply no democratic justification whatsoever for Boris Johnson, or indeed for anyone else, seeking to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose our own future.
It is the will of the country, she added after her SNP was returned for a fourth consecutive term in office.
On the other side, the British government argues Johnson must give approval for any referendum and he has repeatedly made clear he would refuse. He has said it would be irresponsible to hold one now, pointing out that Scots had backed staying in the United Kingdom in a once in a generation poll in 2014.
The nationalists argue that they have democratic authority on their side; the British government says the law is on its side. It is likely the final decision on a referendum will be settled in the courts. The absurdity and outrageous nature of a Westminster government potentially going to court to overturn Scottish democracy, I can't think of a more colorful argument for Scottish independence than that myself, Sturgeon said.
The SNP won two seats from Labour and one from the Conservatives in the constituency results that were declared on Friday. But those wins caused the party to lose seats on the regional list, effectively cancelling out some of the gains it has made. No other constituency seats have changed hands after Thursday's vote, which saw a record turnout for a Scottish Parliament election despite the Covid pandemic.
In the previous independence referendum held in 2014, the nays won 55% to 45%. But in a post-Brexit scenario, Scotland has been tempted with the chance, as an independent country, to be a part of an alliance such as the European Union, which might force the more traditional United Kingdom together the British Commonwealth to summon all of its charm to win over Scottish voters once again.
Sturgeon insisted that the task of building a better Scotland for everyone who lives here will be my priority every single day and that her priority at this point was to lead the country through the pandemic and keep people safe from Covid. It is then to kick-start and drive our recovery with an ambitious and transformative program for government. And, yes, when the crisis has passed, it is to give people in Scotland the right to choose their future. All of that is what I promised and all of that is what I intend to deliver. In her view, holding a new referendum was now the will of the country.
But Johnson says it would be reckless and irresponsible to hold a referendum right now. I listened to the Scottish election carefully. My impression was that they [the SNP] moved away from the idea of a referendum, and I think very wisely. I don't think this is anything like the time to have more constitutional wrangling... people want to heal our economy and bounce forward together. And in a letter to Ms Sturgeon congratulating her on the election, Prime Minister Johnson invited her to discuss our shared challenges, adding we will not always agree - but I am confident... we will be able to build back better, in the interests of the people we serve.
Johnson said the country needed to show the same spirit of unity and co-operation that marked our fight against the pandemic in engineering a covid-19 recovery. Johnson was aware, though, that it would be a difficult journey and that “the broad shoulders of the UK have supported jobs and businesses the length and breadth of the country, but we know that economic recovery will be a serious shared responsibility.”
The Prime Minister also invited Ms
Anyhow, opinion polls suggest that Scottish voters are essentially split 50-50 on the question of independence.