Counting began this morning in the Scottish Parliament election, with more than half of the country’s constituencies expected to declare results today. Results are due to come in over two days as coronavirus safety measures ruled out the traditional overnight count.
Votes in 46 of the 73 constituency seats began counting at about 9am, with the first results expected in the afternoon.
It is anticipated all 46 should be declared by Friday evening.
From about 9am on Saturday, the remaining 27 constituency seats will be counted, after which the regional seats will be allocated.
All results are expected to be declared by Saturday evening.
With the SNP set for another five years in government, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will no doubt ramp up the pressure on Westminster to grant the powers for another vote on Scottish independence.
Weighing into the SNP leader’s independent agenda, Yanis Varoufakis backed Ms Sturgeon’s plot to break up the UK and called on the Scottish leader to ditch the pound.
He said: “While this is a matter for the people of Scotland to decide, I would vote in favour of independence but on one condition: A clear plan for a Scottish currency (i.e. end the idiocy of wanting to keep sterling) & a new developmental model to go with it.”
This year’s election, while conducted under the constraints of coronavirus rules, is considered to be one of the most important since the Scottish Parliament opened in 1999.
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Ms Sturgeon’s opponents in the Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties have stressed the importance of focusing on Scotland’s recovery from coronavirus instead, rather than on indepedendence.
But the SNP leader and her party have said no referendum will be held until after the immediate health crisis is over, and they claim powers gained through independence would actually improve the recovery in Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon has said another pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament, including the Greens and Alba Party seats, should be enough to let Scots vote again on whether they want to leave the UK.
As the first results came in, Orkney constituency was announced to having been held by the Liberal Democrats.
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Liam McArthur will return to Holyrood to represent the safe seat after claiming 7,238 votes.
The SNP was in second place with 3,369 votes, followed by the Scottish Conservatives on 699 and Scottish Labour on 290.
A total of 11,621 votes were cast, 65.4 percent of the electorate.
Minutes later, the SNP held Aberdeen Donside, with councillor Jackie Dunbar taking the seat previously filled by Mark McDonald – who resigned from the party after allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women.
Ms Dunbar won 18,514 votes, defeating the Scottish Conservative candidate on 9,488, with Labour taking 5,505 votes and the Lib Dems 2,162.
Turnout was also up by more than seven percentage points in the Aberdeen constituency, at 57.8 percent.
The SNP went on to hold the Western Isles seat, with sitting MSP Alasdair Allan returned for Nicola Sturgeon’s party, polling a total of 7,454 votes.
They also held the Clydebank and Milngavie seat, with newcomer Marie McNair elected to replace Gil Paterson, who stepped down from Holyrood. Ms McNair was successful after securing 17,787 votes.