The poll cards have been delivered and politicians will be at the forefront as the Scottish Elections prepare to take place on 5 May. It’s a worthy reminder to you as it would be easy to forget where all your crosses lie.
This is the third time the Scottish public have been to the polls in 18 months after the Independence referendum and last year’s general election, and we’ll be heading back there soon for the scheduled EU referendum in June. Of course this election is pretty special for younger students as the voting age has been reduced to allow 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote.
We will put a cross next to the person we want to see represent us in our consistency as well as one for the regional vote. The elections will see the 129 people chosen that we will rely on to develop the country’s politics over the next five years. A MSP will be chosen to lead each of the 73 constituencies in the country before each of the eight regions of constituencies chooses seven other list MSPs through the Additional Member System.
Some high-profile retirements will see some of the most prominent politicians of the last few years leave the scene, including the likes of former First Minister Alex Salmond, former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and former leader of the Scottish Conservatives Annabel Goldie, as well as Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick.
The SNP will generate some headlines as the country begins to scrutinise its job over the last five years and whether they deserve a third consecutive term in power. Behind the SNP, polls have given an interesting, competitive look on the other parties.
A big battle in this election looks to be emerging between the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour who have looked close in the polls. Scottish Labour had previously proposed that they would want to avoid cuts to local budgets by wanting to intervene and propose an 11p Scottish income tax rate and look to avoid cuts in education.
A proposal by the Scottish Conservatives includes also focusing on education by dealing with stopping cuts into music tuition. One of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and Willie Rennie’s proposals are to look to change the way that the country supports mental health services, wanting each GP practice to have an extra qualified professional to support patients.
The Scottish Greens are wanting to introduce a Food Farming and Health Act, Community Greenspaces and Climate-ready neighbourhoods alongside having a written Scottish constitution produced by the public and allowing the country a larger role in international communications.
Seeing the proposals of these parties should issue a reminder for people to register to vote (and then actually vote). Some students may see no point in voting, but if nothing else it does give you the right to moan at the final decision or the next parliament for the next few years.
To be eligible to vote in the Scottish Parliament Election you must be:
• 16 or over on 5 May 2016
• A British citizen
• A Commonwealth citizen living in the UK, who has leave to remain in the UK or who does not require leave to remain in the UK
• A citizen of the European Union
• Resident in Scotland
The deadlines for this election are:
• Register to vote Monday 18 April 2016 (midnight)
• Apply for a postal vote Tuesday 19April 2016 (5pm)
• Apply for a proxy vote Tuesday 26 April 2016 (5pm)