What is the UK General Election

Regional elections in Great Britain: Most important is the election result in Scotland

It is a fateful vote for the United Kingdom: in Scotland and Wales, citizens will be called to elect their regional parliaments this Thursday; mayors and councilors are elected in London and many other cities and districts in England. The polling stations have been open since 8 a.m. (CEST), and voting slips can still be submitted until 11 p.m. (CEST). The first results were expected from Friday. In many regions, the winners will not be known until the weekend, as strict requirements for counting the votes have been imposed in many places due to the corona pandemic.

"This is a very big day," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a video posted on Twitter. He called on the British to vote and vote for his conservative party. For him, the elections are a test of the mood - after Brexit, many controversial decisions to combat pandemics and after the scandal surrounding the renovation of his official apartment.

Fear of an absolute majority for the Scottish SNP

The focus is on the vote in Scotland. There the supporters of independence from the Scottish National Party (SNP) around Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon hope for an absolute majority. The party, which is currently governing with the tolerance of the Scottish Greens, is calling for a second independence referendum for the British part of the country - for this, however, it needs the approval of London. Johnson has so far strictly rejected this. If the SNP and its allies win a majority in parliament, then Johnson would have "no more moral justification" to stand in the way of a new referendum, said Sturgeon.

The results in Scotland are expected on Saturday evening. According to the latest surveys, however, the SNP could suffer a defeat: A survey by the market research company Savante Comres on behalf of the newspaper The Scotsman predicted the party only 59 of 129 seats in parliament - two fewer than before. "It's really down to business," Sturgeon wrote on Twitter, encouraging her followers to vote.

An advantage for the Scottish head of government: Boris Johnson is extremely unpopular in Scotland. According to a survey by the University of Bristol and King's College London, three quarters of Scots (72 percent) distrust the British prime minister when it comes to fighting pandemics. A majority of Scots (55 percent) also believe that the government in London has not cut a good figure overall in the fight against the corona virus. Most recently, opponents of independence had caught up in surveys, also because of the success of the British government's corona vaccination program.

Vote in Hartlepool in the former home of Labor

"The polls suggest a fifty-fifty chance for an absolute SNP majority," wrote election researcher John Curtice of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow on Twitter on Wednesday. In any case, Sturgeon would have to hope for the support of the Greens again, who, according to surveys, should improve their result in this election from six to ten percent of the second votes. In the election in Scotland, as in Germany, there are first votes for the election of direct mandates and second votes for candidates who come to parliament via regional lists.

The English public also looked at the north-east English port city of Hartlepool. There is a by-election to a parliamentary seat; the previous elected representative of the opposition Labor Party resigned after allegations of harassment. According to surveys, the Tories have a good chance of taking over the mandate after decades - and thus another constituency in the former home of the British Social Democrats. Above all, this would be a serious defeat for Labor leader Keir Starmer, who has set himself the goal of the so-called red wall recapture. On Friday he and the voters will know more, then a result is expected.

Finally, this Thursday is also about who will soon be in charge of the British capital. In the mayoral election, Labor incumbent Sadiq Khan was recently well ahead of his conservative challenger Shaun Bailey in the polls. The counting of the votes could drag on here until Sunday.