The decision by Alex Salmond to create the Alba party to contest May’s election adds a new possible outcome. A super majority for Independence
Prior to this the polls were suggesting a break-even or a possible small majority for the SNP. In 2016 the SNP fell 2 seats short of a majority and the polls were suggesting they may do a point or two betters. This analysis is based on the assumption that the SNP will retain its present position.
The important feature of Salmond’s announcement is that Alba will contest only the regional lists and not stand in the individual constituencies.
His decision has been criticised on the basis that the Alba party will split the pro-independence vote. This is not the case and shows a misunderstanding of the Scottish Electoral system In fact it will not affect the SNP vote at all as Alba are not contesting the constituency seats. The SNP won 59 of the 73 constituencies in 2016 and the opinion polls predict they will repeat this or do even better in May.
Alba are only contesting the regional lists which are designed as a sort of “top up” to get a more balanced parliament.
In 2016 the SNP did so well in the constituencies that they only gained 4 of the 56 regional seats and wasted 750000 votes which elected no one.
If say one in six of these 750000 voters now give their regional vote to Alba there would be a pro Independence majority of 9 but if one third did so Alba would win at least 12 seats and the give the pro Independence MSPs a majority of more than 20.
In 2016 the SNP performance in the constituencies meant that their votes in Central Scotland, Lothian, Glasgow, West Scotland, NE Scotland and Mid Scotland and Fyfe regions were never used. Only in South Scotland and Highlands and Islands did the SNP regional votes actually elect SNP MSPs.
If one in six SNP voters in each of these six regions transferred to Alba Alba would win a seat in each and if one in three transferred to Alba would win 2 seats in each region and one in Highland, A bigger transfer would of course result in more pro-Independence MSP’s. Alba support therefore depends on whether the SNP voters desire for independence exceeds their dislike of Salmond and whether they are happy to waste their regional vote or transfer to another pro Independence