We’ve seen some remarkable polling in the past couple of days. As the referendum fallout continues, the British Labour Party’s Scotland branch disintegrates, divides and is (presently) leaderless.
As they reunite, it’s clear that there’s an opportunity to deliver as many pro-independence candidates to Holyrood in 2016 as possible. To do so, requires a bit of psephological analysis – and a strategy for gaming the Additional Member System to deliver as many Yes candidates as possible.
Under AMS, each voter has two votes. The first is used to vote for a named candidate for a geographically defined single member constituency. There are 73 constituencies and candidates are elected via the same first-past-the-post system which is used for elections to Westminster.
The 56 candidates elected in the regional vote is intended to make representation in the Parliament more proportional in relation to share of the vote, taking into account the size of the regional vote for each party (or independent candidate) and the number of constituency seats won by each party (or independent candidate) in that region. It’s with the additional members that are allocated which will deliver the best bang for the buck.
When allocating regional members, the d’Hondt system used allocates additional seats to political parties or independent candidates according to the number of regional votes cast for that party or independent candidate divided by the number of seats (constituency and regional) already gained in that region, plus one. This makes it harder for a party to elect further candidates if they’ve already won seats.
If the Scottish National Party (SNP) do well in these first past the post seats as expected, it will be more difficult for their supporters to elect further SNP candidates. If Yes supporting voters change their regional vote to another party which supports independence, like the Scottish Socialist Party or the Scottish Green Party (or an independent candidate who supports independence – like the late Margo MacDonald), it’ll take far fewer votes to get pro-independence representatives elected.
TL;DR – if you support independence, vote SNP for constituency, then vote SSP or Green in your second vote.
Note: The summaries of how Holyrood’s electoral system work comes from SPICe.