Alex Salmond’s Alba Party looks set to take six per cent of the list vote, while pro-independence parties could win 79 of the Scottish Parliament’s 129 seats in the upcoming election, a new opinion poll suggests.

The latest poll for the Sunday Times has the newly-formed party Alba just above the threshold required in most of Scotland’s parliamentary regions to pick up a list seat, meaning the party could secure six Holyrood seats.

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In the constituency vote, the poll found the SNP had gained two points, up to 49%, with the Tories dropping one to 22%, Labour unchanged on 20% and the Lib Dems down one on 6%.

In the regional list, the SNP have dropped three points to stand at 39%, with the Conservatives down one to 21%, Labour down two on 17%, the Greens on 8%, Alba on 6% and Liberals down two points to 5%.

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Elsewhere, the George Galloway-led All For Unity party’s support in the list rose to 4% — which Prof Curtice said could give the party a single MSP.

Prof Curtice also projected the SNP would win 65 seats (up two since 2016), the Tories 24 (down seven), Labour 20 (down four), Lib Dems five (unchanged), Greens eight (up two), Alba six and All for Unity one.

However, Professor Sir John Curtice told the Sunday Times that if Alba receives just one point below Panelbase’s estimate, “the party’s likely tally would be halved to three seats, while at two points lower it could fall to just one.”

He said: “Alba may be on the cusp of recording a creditable performance and coming away largely empty-handed.”

A total of 1,009 voters were surveyed between March 30 and April 1.

According to the Panelbase poll, Alex Salmond is considered far less trustworthy than Nicola Sturgeon, with only 20% of respondents consider him “a fit person to stand for election”, while 67% disagree and 13% don’t know.

HeraldScotland: Alex SalmondAlex Salmond

Overall, the poll shows Mr Salmond to have an approval rating of -49.

Meanwhile, the poll showed Nicola Sturgeon’s rating is +21 (down from +23), with Tory leader Douglas Ross going from –16 to –23.

Green co-leader Patrick Harvie’s rose slightly from –1 to neutral, while Lib Dem chief Willie Rennie’s slipped from –6 to –8.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar’s approval rating has leapt from +3 to +12 following the first televised leaders’ debate.

The poll also found that independence is backed by 51% when undecideds are excluded, up 1% since last month, with 49% of those surveyed against it (down a point).

In addition, 54% of those surveyed said they want another referendum within five years.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Sir John said Panelbase’s results were “good news” for the Alba Party.

HeraldScotland: Prof John CurticeProf John Curtice

The polling expert said: “Alba may be on the cusp of recording a creditable performance and coming away largely empty-handed.

“Although most of the seats the party could win with a 6% tally look as though they would be secured at the expense of the unionist parties, our projection suggests that a couple might otherwise have been won by the SNP or the Greens.

“Even with an estimated 49% of the constituency vote, that is not a possibility the SNP will regard with equanimity.

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“Such a result in the constituencies could still leave the party a seat short of an overall majority and reliant on winning a vital list seat to achieve what has come to be regarded as a crucial target.”

He said that despite Nicola Sturgeon’s call for “both votes SNP”, 9% of those who back the SNP in the constituency vote indicated they would vote Alba on the list and as many as 10% would opt for the Scottish Greens on the list.

He continued: “Alba is appealing to a section of the nationalist movement that wants a rapid timetable for indyref2 and which still admires Salmond.

“As many as 70% of Alba supporters want a referendum within 12 months compared with 48% of SNP list voters and 35% of Green voters.

“While 93% of those who back Alba believe that Salmond is ‘a fit person to stand for election’, only 13% of SNP supporters and 15% of Green voters take the same view.

“Salmond’s personality has enabled him to create a new party out of nothing.

“However, it may now also constrain what the party can hope to achieve.”

Alex Salmond welcomed the poll, saying the party was "gaining ground".

He said: “We have only just begun to make our case, but ALBA is already registering as the standard bearer of the Independence #Supermajority. 

“The reality that voting SNP on the list is the ultimate wasted vote is starting to cut through. And therefore ALBA is gaining ground.

“In a single week ALBA has overtaken the Liberal Democrats, a party which has been around for 150 years, in both membership and poll ratings.

“A week is a long time in politics. And for the unionist parties the next five weeks shall be a political eternity.”