Will the SNP win in 2016?
If the latest TNS poll is anywhere near correct then the SNP look to be in power again in the Scottish Parliament in 2016.
First we will summarise how elections to the Scottish Parliament work. Unlike Westminster elections, the Scottish Parliament uses a form of proportional representation. Scotland is divided into 73 constituencies in which First Past The Post (FPTP) elections are held. Scotland is divided into another 8 regions and then, under an Additional Member System (AMS), 56 seats are allocated using a modified D'Hondt method so that the final result has some degree of proportionality.
TNS Holyrood Poll
Constituency Vote (FPTP): SNP 60%, LAB 19%, CON 15%, LD 3%
Regional Vote (AMS): SNP 50%, LAB 19%, CON 14%, GRN 10%, LD 5%, UKIP 2%.
TNS is showing that 67% of the electorate are certain to vote compared to 50% who voted in 2011. Such an increase is a likely explanation for the majority SNP vote share. In terms of constituencies, the unionist parties are looking at a wipe out similar to the one they experienced in Election 2015, but they will have some representation at the regional level.
Those who support Scottish independence are considering whether voting SNP at the constituency level, but Green at the regional level will result in more nationalist representation. To succeed they would need to be certain that the SNP will win at the constituency level.
Quite frankly, this is nothing short of remarkable, not least because the electoral system was designed to prevent the SNP from winning a majority. On these figures the SNP are likely to win a majority for the second time. We are beginning to get used to the success of the SNP, but we must remember that such a surge is very unusual in British politics. We must ask ourselves, how will this all end? Surely the SNP cannot maintain this level of support forever? History shows that such a situation can end in completely different ways. For example:
1. In the UK election of 1918, Sinn Fein swept the south of Ireland. Following the Irish War of Independence, the south of Ireland became independent. Of course the circumstances in Ireland were different, especially since the Irish had not just voted to remain in the UK.
2. Quebec has voted twice against independence from Canada, first in 1980 with a 19% lead and again in 1995 with only a 1% lead. Now the demand for independence has subsided somewhat, with polls showing the lead to have increased to around 20%.