Alistair Munro: Coalition inevitable in the Highlands

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In the Highlands, it is almost inevitable there will be a coalition tomorrow, reports The Scotsman’s Highlands and Islands correspondent Alistair Munro

There will be a battle for power at Highland Council as it heads towards another Coalition as no one party is likely to win outright.

The Independents, with 49 candidates, are the only party which can mathmatically achieve a majority of the 80 available seats, but the nature of proportional representation makes this almost impossible.

Therefore another rainbow coalition is on the cards.

Currently, the authority is Lib-Dem and Independent run. Whatever the outcome, there will be a new leader, as the present leader, Lochaber member Michael Foxley, is not seeking re-election after 26 years on the council.

The Lib Dems also fear a backlash because of anger locally over the UK Government Coalition with the Tories.

They have put up less candidates than actually sit as councillors on the current regime, 18 compared to 22.

Meanwhile, the SNP are hoping to build on their national success on the Scottish Parliament elections and have increased their number of candidates, now 33, putting two up in most of the three/four-member wards.

This move is a bid to take control of the council, albeit in a rainbow coalition.

There are 170 candidates fighting for 80 seats in 22 multi-member wards. The region, which is bigger than Belgian, has an electorate of 175,979.

While a low turnout was being predicted, there was a record number of people across the Highlands who decided to vote by post.

More than 27,000 people registered by post.

The major issues being debated in the Highlands are currently council housing and the lack of affordable homes available, transport links – particularly duelling of the A9 to the Central Belt and the A96 to Aberdeen – and renewable energy, with a big focus being put on redveloping former fabrication yards at Nigg and Ardersier..