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Highlands & Islands 2016 Analysis and 2021 Projections

For elections to the Scottish Parliament, Scotland is divided into 8 Regions. Each Region can contain 8 to 10 Constituencies. So everyone in Scotland gets 2 votes. A Constituency Vote and a Regional Vote. Normally people vote in both, but sometimes they only vote in one. Only voting in one does not spoil your other vote.

Constituency Vote (Vote 1 – Constituency Ballot Paper)

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Regional Vote (Vote 2 – Regional Ballot Paper)

Total Votes – 348,303, Valid Votes – 205,313, Turnout – 58.95% and SNP Vote Share – 39.74%

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  • The Regional Vote however is affected by how many Seats a Party wins in the Constituencies.
  • Regional Seats are awarded by dividing Regional Party Totals by the Number of Seats already Won + 1 (D’Hondt System) over 7 Rounds. This might look complicated but it’s really just simple adding and dividing.
  • The basic premise is that if a Party does well with Constituency Seats, the System (D’Hondt) makes it very difficult for them to do well with Regional Seats.


What can we say about the 2016 Election Results?

  • In 2016 the SNP won 6 Constituency Seats so their Regional Vote was divided by 6 + 1 (D’Hondt) = 7 from Round 1 going forward. The Lib Dems won 2 Constituency Seats so their Regional Vote was divided by 2 + 1 (D’Hondt) = 3.
  • Despite having ‘by far’ the largest number of regional votes the SNP only won ‘1’ regional seat in Highlands and Islands and they just scraped it on the latter rounds. There was no further possibility of them winning any more regional seats in the Highlands and Islands
  • Unionist Parties and the Greens shared remaining 6 Regional Seats with the Labour winning the last one with 11,447 votes.

2021 Projections For Additional Independence Parties Running on the Regional Vote

What might happen if another Independence Party ran on the Regional Vote and encouraged voters to vote for them instead of the SNP?

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  • Current Polling projects the SNP is on 52% Constituencies (48.85% in 2016) and 44% Regional (44.65% in 2016). The difference between the SNP vote in Constituencies and Regions is historic and usual because voters have more choice to express opinion on the Regional Ballot.
  • Based on current polling the SNP is again projected to win 6 Constituency Seats in the Highlands and Islands in 2021 meaning that their Regional Vote would be divided by 6 + 1 (D’Hondt) = 7. The SNP are also projected to win a regional seat again in the latter rounds of the regional count, but this still means that over 70,000 Independence votes would not be utilised.
  • In 2016 ‘BothVotesSNP’ did not work and given current polling it will certainly not work in 2021 either. If SNP Votes transfer to other Independence Parties, then Independence MSP’s will get elected instead of Unionists.
  • If all Independence voters voted for the SNP in the Constituencies, and the SNP withdrew candidates from the Regional Vote, Independence and not an individual Party would be the winner.
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