IndyRef2: Alba Party Creates Rift Between Nationalists!

What are the authorities of the Scottish Parliament? Why is the Alba Party formed a few months before the Scottish elections? Will the Alba Party lead to an easier independence referendum or a harder one? Former SNP chairman Alex Salmond is seeking to regain his fame and popularity. Was the Alba Party founded for personal popularity or to strengthen the independence process? Contrary to expectations, the establishment of Alba Party leads to a rift among nationalists.

The Scottish Parliament elections will be held on 6 May and 129 new Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) will walk into Holyrood. The campaign for the Scottish Parliament elections resumed this week, and on 6 may people across the country will vote to elect new MSPs. MSPs in the Scottish Parliament pass laws on devolved issues related to daily life in Scotland, including health and education, and they also pass laws related to some other issues, such as income tax and welfare benefits. The party with the most seats will form the Scottish government. If the Scottish National Party (SNP) gets a majority, it will able to secure a second independence referendum. In March, former SNP leader, Alex Salmond, announced that he wanted to run in the elections as the leader of a new party called the Alba Party. He claimed that the Alba Party will boost the chances of a second referendum on Scottish independence.

Salmond Seeks a New Adventure

Retired TV producer, Laurie Flynn, founded the Alba Party, which was registered by the Electoral Commission in January. It was formally launched by Alex Salmond in March and is a nationalist and pro-independence party. Several main figures, including two SNP members of the UK Parliament, have already joined it. Alba is Gaelic for Scotland; Scotland is called the same in the Irish Celtic language too. Alex Salmond launched the Alba Party and announced that it is a list-only party. The former SNP leader has said that he expects to field four candidates in each regional list and hoped for the election of Alba MSPs from all areas of Scotland. He emphasized that the Alba Party is a pro-independence party which also promotes ideas about taking Scotland forward into an economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic. He promised that the Alba Party will work for a socially just country with a written constitution for the new independent society to defend the rights and liberties of all citizens before the law.

Pro-Independent Alba Party Was Launched Before the Election Campaign

Nicola Sturgeon, the current leader of the SNP, needs to secure the majority of seats in Holyrood as it is the mandate that she needs to ask the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for legal permission to hold a second independence referendum. The Alba Party has also campaigned for a supermajority and independence, and has already attracted some SNP members and supporters. Some experts have warned that the Alba Party’s emergence may backfire on the cause for independence. Under the Holyrood electoral system, 73 MSPs are elected to represent constituencies according to the first-past-the-post system – the candidate with the most votes will win regardless of vote shares. Some 56 seats for Holyrood remain and these 56 members are elected by a regional list system. According to this system, the seat distribution is more representative of the overall vote. Each person in Scotland has a total of 8 votes, one to elect a constituency MSP and seven to elect list MSPs. In the 2016 parliament elections, the SNP won big in constituency votes, but it did not secure many seats in list seats; and now, the Alba Party is campaigning for the list seats.


Alba Party Seeks to Secure List Seats that SNP May Lose

The former leader of the SNP hopes to see a supermajority for independence by the Alba Party and has said he believes that he can begin to lead discussions with London for Scottish independence. However, Ms Sturgeon, the successor of Mr Salmond, has argued that the only way to pursue independence is a majority vote for the SNP in order to follow a legal and legitimate process. She has also emphasized that it will not be possible to attain the goal by bulldozing the way to independence. With Alba Party’s emergence, there is a risk that no single party will be able to secure an overwhelming majority in Holyrood, which is needed as a mandate for a second referendum. Some experts believe what the SNP needs is a majority government and that the Alba Party should not split the votes for regional lists, because it will not help the cause for Scottish independence.

May Elections a Path to Independence

On the other hand, Mr Salmond reminded that the SNP could secure most seats in constituencies, although it was not successful in list votes before. He introduced the Alba Party as a list-only party and asked supporters to vote for the regional party list, after which parliament should unite the parties to form the pro-independence government. Salmond added that the UK prime minister has already said NO to the SNP request for a second referendum, but with the Alba Party and SNP united in Holyrood, it will be difficult for Johnson to say NO to the parliament; undoubtedly, it will not be easy to say NO to the country. Moreover, people in Scotland are now more pro-independence, because the SNP was able to handle the coronavirus pandemic. Many people think that independence from the UK is better for them. They did not vote to leave the EU, but since the majority of the UK voters were for leave, the Scots were forced to leave the bloc against their will. Due to all these matters, the tendency for independence from the UK has grown in Scotland and a recent Opinium study for Sky News has revealed that 51% of Scots will vote YES to independence.


Alba Party Leader Argues the UK PM Cannot Reject a United Holyrood 

Although the SNP still seems to dominate the outcome of the votes in the 6 May parliament elections, previous experience shows that it can do well in constituency seats, but may not secure a good number of regional list votes. Besides, all throughout the Brexit talks, the SNP leader insisted on a second independence referendum, because Scots had mostly voted to remain in the EU and were taken out of the bloc as a result of the British government’s decision. Now, the SNP needs a majority as a mandate to launch an independence campaign, but another pro-independent party named Alba was founded, claiming to secure the regional list votes. The SNP still wants and seeks a single party majority in Holyrood, while the Alba Party argues that a united parliament for independence will be a force that London cannot deny and will have to approve the Scottish independence referendum. The final outcome on 6 May will see whether a split among nationalist Scots will make London agree with the SNP’s request or if it will backfire on the cause for independence.

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