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Thursday, April 29, 1999 Published at 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK

Scotland will be ruled by coalition - polls

Scotland will be governed by a coalition in the new Scottish Parliament, the latest newspaper opinion polls suggest.

Surveys carried out for the The Herald and Daily Record newspapers suggest no party will have the magical 65 seats required for overall majority at Holyrood.

The latest poll carried out for the Daily Record indicates a fall in Labour support from a week ago, while The Herald's survey suggests a dramatic improvement in the Scottish National Party's fortunes.

The System Three poll for the Herald, which last week projected the SNP losing ground to Labour, suggests the party has jumped seven points in the first past the post vote to 33%. Labour, meanwhile, has slipped two points to 44%.

The nationalists have made a gain in the second regional list vote to 34%, while Labour has dropped three points to 37%.

SNP Chief Executive Mike Russell said: "Labour clearly peaked too soon and they are now in real trouble. The race for Holyrood is wide open."

Parties down

The Liberal Democrats are down three points on the first vote to 10% and one point on the second vote to 13%, while the Tories have fallen one point on the first vote and two on the second to suggest a 10% rating in both sections.

The poll projected Labour would have 55 seats in the Scottish Parliament - well below the figure needed for an overall majority - the SNP 48, the Liberal Democrats 15 and Conservatives 11.

A Daily Record poll also published on Thursday suggested both the SNP and Labour have lost ground in the run-up to polling day on 6 May.

The survey, carried out by Scottish Opinion Ltd, suggested the SNP's popularity has fallen below 30% on both votes.

The party would receive 25.5% on the first past the post vote and 29.6% on the regional list vote, a fall from 32.4% and 31.7% respectively from figures published in a poll last week.

The poll also projected Labour popularity fell from 48% to 44.5% on the first vote and 48.1% to 41.3% on the second vote.

Labour popularity

This would translate into 60 seats for Labour - five short of an overall majority for the party at Holyrood - and 40 seats for the SNP.

The Liberal Democrats polled 16.1% on the first vote and 17.2% on the regional vote - translated into 16 seats - while the Tories would receive 13 seats on the basis of a 13.9% first vote rating and 11.9% second vote result.

The Daily Record poll sample was much larger than that in last week's published survey.

On this occasion, 4,108 people across Scotland were interviewed by telephone from 31 March to 27 April, including 1,110 last week.

The Herald poll, meanwhile, surveyed a smaller number of potential voters than the 3,255 from all of Scotland's 73 Scottish Parliamentary constituencies interviewed for last week's "superpoll".

On this occasion, System Three interviewed 984 people from 40 constituencies from 22 to 27 April.

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