Tag Archives: guddle of the ballots

Too close to call?

The highest turnout for a national election in Scotland in the past fifty years seems to have been the February 1974 General Election, where over 78% of registered voters voted.

Glasgow Herald 1979The turnout for the devolution referendum in March 1979 was 63.72%: 51.62% of those voted Yes to a Scottish Assembly, 48.38% voted No, a majority for Yes of 3.24%. But, according to the terms of that referendum, set down in 1978, the Assembly had to get over 40% of the electorate – there were 3,747,112 registered voters, so they needed at least 267,908 more votes for Yes to be allowed to win. 1,359,540 people were registered to vote and didn’t – the turnout was 63.72%, with only 0.13% rejected ballots.

The UK General Election in May 1979 got a turnout of 76.84% – that is, 532,198 more registered voters turned out to vote three months later than in the Assembly referendum. To win an Assembly under the 40% rule, the campaign would have had to get a higher turnout than average for 70s General Elections, and maintain its 51.62% share of the vote.
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Why two questions?

In autumn 2014, Scotland will vote on independence. Obviously, the SNP want to win. But realistically, the leaders of the party can read polling data as well as you or I: they know a majority yes for independence is not a likely outcome in 2014.

The SNP have said, ever since 2007, that they would have a referendum on independence only after they had won two elections.

In 2007 and 2011 they won, and so they have a democratic mandate and an obligation to hold a referendum. But they won both elections because of unexpected circumstances.
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Filed under Elections, Politics, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics