Big Stakes in Local Elections
NEWS FROM CELTIC PRESS
Voting begins today for the local elections in Alba (Scotland) (see note below) and Cymru (Wales) to elect council representatives for all wards in both of these Celtic countries.
Competition for wards has been fierce in both countries and, apart from their electoral value, the results will be eagerly awaited by the two main nationalist parties – Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru – for different reasons. In Alba the SNP will be hoping that the local elections will give some indication as to the strength of support that the Party is currently enjoying, which will be a confidence boost ahead of next years’ planned referendum on independence. In Cymru on the other hand, party members will be looking to see how the electorate respond following the recent election of Leanne Wood as leader of the party in March 2012.
Both parties have key councils that each would like to win in particular. For the SNP one of these councils is Glasgow City Council, which has been traditionally dominated by the Labour (Unionist) Party. For the first time in its history and with a substantially weakened Labour (Unionist) Party in Scotland, it looks feasible that the SNP could gain control of the City for the first time or at least run it as part of a coalition. Both the SNP and Labour have thrown large resources behind the campaign to win Glasgow, knowing that if they do it will be the cherry on the top of what is hoped will be an overall electoral win that will reaffirm the SNP’s position as Scotland’s largest party.
For Plaid Cymru one of the key wards is Rhondda Cynon Taff Council, which is the area where Ms Wood grew up and still lives. RCT is in the south Wales valley area of the country and is a traditional Labour (Unionist) Party stronghold, but the area did briefly slip Plaid Cymru’s way in the 1999 Welsh Assembly elections and returned to Labour in 2003. RCT, Caerffili and parts of Carmarthenshire are Labour’s traditional strongholds in Wales and in the words of Plaid’s Helen Mary Jones, these are the areas where there will be a “national bounce for Labour”.
If Labour loose these councils in Alba and Cymru they will be reeling for years to come and will stand the SNP and Plaid in good stead for the future.
The next local elections in the other Celtic countries will be held according to the list below:
Breizh (Brittany): The next regional elections will be held in March 2016 and are held every six years.
Kernow (Cornwall): Council elections will be held in May 2013 and are held every four years.
Éire (Ireland): Council elections will be held in June 2014 and are held every five years; North of Ireland council elections will be held May 2015 and are held every four years.
Mannin (Isle of Man): The next district elections will be held in April 2016 and are held every four years.
Local elections in Scotland were due to take place in May 2011, but Scottish Ministers followed the recommendations made in the Gould Report to split the Scottish Parliamentary and Local elections to avoid electoral confusion (as experienced in the 2007 elections). The 2012 local elections will be the first that the SNP have taken part in since they won a majority government in 2011.
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