Friday, May 19, 2006

Predicting Scottish elections

Scottish electoral mechanics are always interesting to watch. South of the border, most seats are either safe or two-way marginals. Three-way marginals are rare, and tend to disappear over the course of a few elections, the third party squeeze / ratchet effect caused by Duverger's Law means that it becomes "irrational" as the economists put it to vote for the third place or below candidate. Yet in Scotland? They not only still have three way marginals, they also have some 4 way marginals. One party can gain a seat despite losing votes, as the first place candidate loses votes to the third place, but not enough for third to take the seat. Very difficult to predict results, but very interesting to study. However, as Holyrood (the glorified county council referred to as a Parliament) is up for election next year, Duncan is taking a stab at summarising the current state of play, and has an interesting selection of links, well worth a look over. I especially like this:
Personally, I buy the idea that in Scotland there is a clear anti-Labour vote and that whichever party between the SNP and the Lib Dems is in the best position to halt Labour will pick up the votes.
and my reading of the recent bye-election results leads me to agree with him. Labour's "Scottish Raj" have dominated elections in most of the country at virtually every level for quite some time. Next years campaign will be good to watch. And if, of course, Blair is still in office next May, and they lose Scotland? Especially if the LibDems gain seats as predicted despite being in Govt up there?

As I've said here (nice one Paulie, but a little too early methinks - I agree, once again, with Millenium):
If Blair lasts the year without at least announcing when he's going, I'll be amazed.

Best bet is he announces he's going to stand down next May, there'll be a leadership election to take place sometime over the winter, etc.
If Blair goes before next May, then maybe Labour can start rebuilding their credibility. If they dump some of their obvious stupidities as well, then maybe the "anti-Labour" vote will ebb. But if Blair is still there? Nicol Stephen as First Minister in a LibDem/SNP/Green coalition? Gordon would love that about as much as he likes his own MP...

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doctorvee said...

Did you see the related post here I linked to? I probably should have updated my post, but instead I tucked it away in the linklog.

But reading that post you almost get the impression that Labour want to lose the next election. Going pro-nuclear, whether you are in favour of the policy or not, is a spectacular own goal in electoral terms because the Conservatives say they wouldn't form a coalition, and all of the other parties are against nuclear!

MatGB said...

Blimey, no, hadn't seen that (I'd had the window open to make my post for ages, Fx crashed at least once during that time, I love crash recovery).

A referendum on independence would mean nothing. Worth accepting it post-election, but you can't be seen to be open to the idea pre-election.

Interesting times. Wonder why the Tories are so anti coalition given their minority status? Makes no sense at all. Ah well.