Elections in great britain: regional governments weaken

In Scotland, the SNP lost its majority; in Wales, so did the Labour Party. In England, Labour lost fewer seats than expected.

Won but without a majority: SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon Photo: ap

In the elections to the regional parliaments in Scotland and Wales, both governing parties missed an absolute majority. The separatist Scottish National Party (SNP) surprisingly lost six seats and ended up with only 63 mandates – two short of an absolute majority.

This means that it will be difficult for the SNP to push through a second independence referendum in the foreseeable future. Party leader Nicola Sturgeon had announced that in the event of a majority for Brexit – leaving the European Union in the British referendum on June 23 – she would quickly offer the Scots a new referendum on independence.

Behind the SNP, the Tories established themselves as the strongest opposition party in Edinburgh with 31 seats – more than twice as many as in the election five years ago. The Tories had been in steady decline in Scotland since Margaret Thatcher’s time in power, and for the last 20 years they have won at most one seat in the British House of Commons elections.

Their resurgence came at the expense of the Labour Party, which slipped to third place with 24 seats. Until 2007, it had still held a majority in the Scottish Parliament, and until last year’s British general election, Labour had sent most of the members of the House of Commons to Westminster.

Labour also suffered losses in Wales, but is still the strongest party with 29 seats. However, it fell short of an absolute majority by two seats. The nationalist Plaid Cymru remains the largest opposition party, just ahead of the Tories. The right-wing populist United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) won seven seats in Wales. One of them went to Neil Hamilton, the former Tory MP convicted of corruption. Party leader Nigel Farage spoke of a "historic breakthrough" in Wales.

Debate on Jeremy Corbyn?

In the local elections in England, Labour’s losses were limited. Instead of the predicted 150 mandates, the party only lost around 50. However, it is the first time in 30 years that an opposition party has lost ground in local elections.

London’s outgoing mayor Boris Johnson, the most prominent Brexit advocate, said, "I suppose now a debate will start about the position of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn." Corbyn was elected by the party base last fall, but the majority of the parliamentary party and even the media are against him.

A consolation for Corbyn is Thursday’s House of Commons by-elections in Ogmore and Sheffield, where Labour defended seats as expected but failed to gain votes.

In the election for London mayor and successor to Johnson, Labour candidate Sadiq Khan was seen as the favorite. The 45-year-old would be the first Muslim mayor of the English capital. As the election workers went to bed after the polling stations closed and did not start counting the votes until Friday morning, the official final result is expected around evening.