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Scottish National Party Leads Labour in Poll Before May 5 Vote

The Scottish National Party, which won power four years ago for the first time, may still emerge as the largest group in the Edinburgh parliament after May 5 elections, according to a poll of voting intentions.

The pro-independence SNP, led by First Minister Alex Salmond, led the Labour Party by 37 percent to 36 percent in the constituency vote and by 35 percent to 33 percent in the regional vote, an Ipsos MORI survey for the Times newspaper found. Voters cast two ballots in Scottish elections, one for a specific lawmaker and one for a party in the region.

The poll indicates a change in fortunes for the SNP, which has been trailing Labour in recent surveys by as much as 16 percentage points. Labour, led in Scotland by Iain Gray, had been picking up support from defecting Liberal Democrats, which formed a coalition in the U.K. government with Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives in May last year.

Labour led the SNP by 49 percent to 33 percent in the constituency vote and by 47 percent to 33 percent in the regional vote, according to a survey of voting intentions by TNS-BRMB published on Jan. 17.

The Scottish government has powers over justice, health, education, the environment and some financial affairs under the devolution agreement that re-established the Scottish Parliament in 1999. Broader economic policies such as taxes and regulation, as well as foreign affairs, defense and energy, are reserved for the U.K. Parliament at Westminster in London.

The Ipsos MORI poll for the Times asked 1,019 adults in Scotland between Feb. 10 and Feb. 14. The support for the parties was based on 627 people who said they were certain to vote. No margin of error was given.

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