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Keywords:

  • Scottish Parliament;
  • elections;
  • valence;
  • Scottish National Party;
  • Labour Party

The Scottish National Party's outright win in the Scottish Parliament election on 5 May 2011 confounded pre-election polls and commentaries as well as a (broadly) proportional electoral system which was held to minimise the risk of a Nationalist majority moving Scotland to independence. But an extraordinary result in historical context looks much more ordinary when we explore voters' attitudes and choices. According to data from the ESRC-funded Scottish Election Study 2011, the SNP won its majority for that most mundane of electoral reasons: most voters thought that the party would do a better job in office than its rivals, including its chief rival, the Labour Party.