THE SNP could be on track to win a third term at Holyrood, party leaders have claimed after a poll showed almost half of Scots are planning on backing the nationalists in the next Scottish Parliament elections.
The poll, which was carried out after last week’s historic referendum, also found the majority of people believe there should not be another such ballot for at least 15 years.
The debate over Scotland’s future sparked a renewed interest in politics north of the border, with the referendum having the highest electoral turnout on record in the UK.
In the wake of the result, which saw Scots reject independence by 55 per cent to 45 per cent, the SNP has seen a surge in membership, with more than 9,000 people joining the party since the ballot.
The first poll carried out after the referendum also revealed a rise in support for the party at both Westminster and Holyrood.
While 35 per cent of those questioned said they planned on voting SNP in next May’s general election, the level of support rose to 49 per cent when people were asked about their voting intentions for the 2016 Holyrood election.
That poll of more than 900 people by Survation found while Labour were still the most popular party in terms of the next Westminster election on 39 per cent, they are lagging behind the nationalists in voting intentions for Scottish Parliament, with support at 33 per cent.
SNP business convener Derek Mackay said: “These ratings are very impressive, a 16-point SNP lead and well above even our 2011 election landslide vote. At this stage in the last parliament, it was Labour who had a double-digit lead.
“Labour’s position in Scotland is precarious in the aftermath of the referendum - by contrast, SNP membership has surged by more than 9,000 since Friday.”
He added: “People are supporting the SNP because they trust us to work in the best interests of Scotland. We will keep working hard to live up to their trust, and continue to deliver for Scotland.”
Only 39 per cent of Scots want another independence referendum in the next 15 years, the poll found, with 52 per cent stating there should be no such ballot for at least that period.
There was also broad support for transferring more powers to Scotland over areas such as tax and benefits.
A total of 80 per cent of people questioned supported Scotland having control over welfare, with 62 per cent saying it should be in charge of pensions. Almost three quarters (71 per cent) of people back the devolution of income tax while 62 per cent want to see Scotland get control of corporation tax and 61 per cent say Holyrood should be in charge of VAT.
However only 44 per cent of people who were surveyed wanted defence matters to be devolved to Scotland.