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UPDATE 1-Ruling pro-independence SNP win early seats in crucial Scottish elections

Fri, 7th May 2021 14:13

(Adds new results, background)

By Natalie Thomas

GLASGOW, May 7 (Reuters) - The first results in crucial
elections for the Scottish parliament which could determine the
future of the United Kingdom began to be announced on Friday
with early successes for Scotland's main pro-independence party.

The ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) won three of the
first four seats to be declared, although there was an increase
in support for opposition pro-union parties, indicating the
final outcome of the election could be very close.

The SNP has said it intends to hold another referendum on
secession from the United Kingdom by 2023 if there is a
pro-independence majority returned to the devolved 129-seat
parliament, setting up a potential legal showdown with Prime
Minister Boris Johnson who says he will refuse any such vote.

Britain's departure from the European Union, a move opposed
by an overwhelming majority in Scotland, a perception that the
Scottish government has handled the COVID-19 crisis well, and
antipathy to Johnson's Conservative government in Westminster
have all bolstered support for the independence movement.

The SNP need to gain at least four more seats to win an
overall majority of 65, but could rely on the backing of the
pro-independence Green Party, which took five seats in 2016, to
pursue a second referendum.

The SNP comfortably regained three seats where it had large
majorities, while the opposition Liberal Democrats won Orkney,
an archipelago of islands in the north of Scotland.

Results from about two-thirds of the 73 constituency seats
are due on Friday. The remainder and regional seats – allocated
on a complicated proportional representation system based on a
second vote – will not be announced until Saturday.

All the parties say how those regional seats fall could be
crucial in whether there is a pro-independence majority in the
parliament.

Scots voted by 55%-45% in 2014 to remain part of the United
Kingdom, in what pro-unionist parties say should be a once in a
generation vote. Polls suggest the outcome of a second
referendum would be too tight to call.
(Writing by Michael Holden and Andrew MacAskill)

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