Scottish National Party

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The Scottish National Party (SNP) (Scottish Gaelic: Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba; Scots: Scottis Naitional Pairtie) is the largest political party campaigning for the independence of Scotland from the United Kingdom.[b] The party's basic platform advocates secession from the United Kingdom, unilateral disarmament and full unification with the European Union. Its stated aim is "to create a just, caring and enterprising society by releasing Scotland's full potential as a independent nation in the mainstream of modern Europe."[3] The party's social democratic[4] platform is largely considered centre-left in the Scottish/UK political spectrum. The SNP's left-wing nationalism, based on equality, popular sovereignty and national self-determination, is a characteristic shared with other Celtic nationalist parties such as Plaid Cymru, Mebyon Kernow, the Social Democratic and Labour Party and the Breton Democratic Union.

The SNP was founded in 1934, and has had continuous parliamentary representation since Winnie Ewing's groundbreaking victory at the 1967 Hamilton by-election.[5] With sporadic gains since, the SNP has tended to fare poorly in United Kingdom general elections and currently holds 6 of 59 Scottish seats in the UK Parliament, due to the First-past-the-post electoral system operated at Westminster. For example, at the 2010 UK General Election, the SNP won nearly 20% of the popular vote, but only received around 10% of the seats available in Scotland.

In the last few decades, the party has usually polled the second highest number of votes for a political party in Scotland. This changed in 2007 when the SNP ended 50 years of Labour dominance in the country by winning 47 of the 129 seats in the third 2007, Scottish Parliamentary election. As a result of becoming the largest party in the Scottish Parliament[6] the SNP sought to form a coalition government, but after talks broke down with the other parties they formed a minority administration. The first SNP administration has been noted for its relative stability compared to previous coalition administrations, due to only having two reshuffles within three years (the second of which was minor). The previous administrations had very frequent reshuffles, with very few members staying throughout the eight year rule of the Liberal-Labour Coalition of 1999-2007.

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