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Devolved Legislature Elections, 5 May 2016: Background

Published Friday, March 11, 2016

This House of Lords Library briefing provides information relating to the elections for the devolved legislatures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on 5 May 2016.

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On 5 May 2016, elections will be held for the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly. This briefing provides an overview of the electoral arrangements for these legislatures, their current political composition, any recent opinion polling and speeches relevant to the elections.

Electoral Arrangements

Members of the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales are elected under the Additional Member System, which combines elements of first-past-the-post and proportional representation. Under this system, each voter has two votes. The first is used to vote for a named candidate in a single-member constituency, using the first-past-the-post system. The second vote is cast for a political party, or for an independent candidate, in a larger electoral region from which multiple candidates are elected. Members for the Northern Ireland Assembly are elected by Single Transferable Vote in multi-member constituencies.

Recent Polls

Polling suggests that support in Scotland is highest for the Scottish National Party (SNP). Analysis by John Curtice, Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, of a poll by YouGov suggests that this level of support would translate to 70 seats for the SNP, 26 for the Scottish Labour Party, 24 for the Scottish Conservative Party, five for the Scottish Green Party and four for the Scottish Liberal Democrats. In Wales, the Welsh Labour Party was most the popular party in a poll conducted in February 2016. Analysis of this poll by Cardiff University projected that the Labour Party would win 27 seats, the Conservatives would win twelve seats, Plaid Cymru would win ten, the UK Independence Party nine and the Welsh Liberal Democrats two. A poll of voters in Northern Ireland put support for the Democratic Unionist Party at 26 percent and Sinn Féin at 24 percent, followed by the Ulster Unionist Party polled at 14 percent, the Social Democratic and Labour Party at 11 percent, the Alliance Party at 8 percent, Traditional Unionist Voice at 3 percent and the Green and UK Independence parties at 2 percent.

Several party leaders have set out election pledges in recent speeches; however, most of the parties contesting the elections have yet to publish election manifestos.

Lords Library notes LLN-2016-0014

Author: Emily Haves

Topics: Electoral systems, National Assembly for Wales, Northern Ireland Assembly, Scottish Parliament

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