The British vote on Thursday in local elections crucial to the unity of Boris Johnson and the United Kingdom, with Scottish separatists hoping for a convincing victory to pave the way for a new self-determination referendum.
Postponed for a year due to the pandemic, these elections will allow 48 million voters to renew some 5,000 seats in 143 local assemblies in England, elect a mayor in the capital London and appoint new regional parliaments in the countries of Wales and Scotland. needed.
“It’s a very big day,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a video posted on Twitter on Thursday, calling on Britons to go to the polls and vote for their Conservative party in front of the opposition, whatever Not doing it, but “playing the political game,” he said.
Open from 7 a.m. local time, offices will close at 10 p.m. Results are expected only on Friday and very slowly throughout the weekend. In Scotland, a province of 5.5 million inhabitants, they would potentially be decisive for the future of the United Kingdom.
If the separatists in power win a majority in the local parliament, the head of the Scottish National Party (SNP), First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, intends to pressure the central government in London to be able to hold a new independence referendum. .
In 2014, Scots chose 55% to live in the UK. An argument was made by Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has the last word to strongly oppose a new consultation which, according to him, could happen “once in a generation”.
Supporters of a new referendum say Brexit, which was opposed by 62% of Scots, was a game-changer. Also the pandemic, which boosted Nicola Sturgeon’s popularity, was credited with good management of the health crisis.
After months of elections promising SNP growth and a majority in favor of independence, the party may be disillusioned. A Savante Comrese poll conducted for The Scotsman newspaper predicted the worst score since coming to power in 2007 with 59 seats out of 129 (-2).
“This is really playing on a razor’s edge,” Nicola Sturgeon wrote on Twitter, encouraging her supporters to vote.
Despite lacking a majority on its own, the formation would be able to rely on the new Alba party of the former mentor of the Greens and former Scottish leader Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon, who became their rival after a rift within the independence camp.
“I’m all for Nicola Sturgeon, because I think she was great during the pandemic,” said Lorna McClure, 60, a cleaning lady interviewed by AFP in Glasgow. “I want freedom”.
Raghav Jai, a 35-year-old student, would prefer the province to stay in the UK: “So you know who I won’t vote for.”
These elections also have a double test value. For Boris Johnson, the legislative elections in late 2019 followed a tidal wave of conservatives, with the promise of achieving Brexit now in effect.
A test also for Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer, whose party has been running side by side with elections for the first time since they took a head on their historic defeat in legislative elections in April 2020.
“We are fighting for every vote,” he said on Wednesday. “Whatever the outcome, I will take responsibility.”
Building on the success of the coronavirus vaccination campaign, Boris Johnson remains in the polls despite several scandals, including funding the renovation of his official apartment, and a very heavy pandemic toll – more than 127,500 dead.
Particularly stakes around Hartlepool, a Labor stronghold in the north-east of England, are likely to switch conservatives by electing their new deputy, following the resignation of an outgoing elected official accused of sexual assault. Quite a symbol after being taken over by the Labor “Red Wall” in 2019, these regions were affected by the deindustrialization of the north of England.
Labor in London is in much better shape. Five years after becoming the first Muslim mayor of a major western capital, Labor Sadiq Khan has been given the winner for a second term, far ahead of conservative Sean Bailey.
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