First Minister of Scotland and leader of Scotland National Party (SNP), Alex Salmond
Source: Press TV
The Scottish election campaign has entered its final peaks as voters prepare to cast their ballots on Thursday amid mounting calls for Scotland's independence from the UK.
It is the fourth election since Edinburgh's Holyrood powerhouse was formed in 1999, with main contender Alex Salmond promising to hold an independence referendum by 2015 if he wins Thursday's polls.
The First Minister of Scotland claimed during a leaders' debate at the state-run BBC that victory in May 5 election would give him “moral authority” to pursue independence.
Salmond said he wanted the Scottish people to vote on breaking up the UK "in the second half of the [upcoming] parliament."
"I believe this country is good enough, big enough and rich enough to be independent”, he has said earlier in an independence rallying call.
However, Salmond's call for an independence referendum has been dismissed by Iain Gray, the Scottish Labour leader, who put the economy as his party's first priority.
"The priority is to get our economy growing again, to create jobs and to create opportunities for our young people,” said the Labour Party candidate.
After all, Scotland's four main party leaders fielded questions on free bus passes, tuition fees and Scotland's drive to generate more green power. Meanwhile, they all agreed that it was necessary to tackle bigotry and religious hatred at a national basis.
The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats will both start the day on a high, with Tory leader Annabel Goldie unveiling a giant peach ballot paper on Edinburgh's Calton Hill to urge voters to back her party on the peach-coloured second ballot.
Meanwhile, Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott will join candidate for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale Jeremy Purvis to ride the downhill mountain biking track at Innerleithen.
Finally, Green Lothians candidate Alison Johnstone will meet students outside Edinburgh University's George Square Library with Edinburgh Young Greens convener Dominic Hinde distributing leaflets encouraging students to back them with their second vote.
The latest TNS-BMRB poll put Alex Salmond on course to form the second SNP Scottish government. The survey puts the party 18 points clear of nearest challengers Labour in the constituency vote and 13 points ahead in the regional vote.
MSPs have responsibility for matters including health, education and law. Other issues such as foreign policy and defence remain reserved to MPs at Westminster in London.