2016 Scottish Parliament election
All 129 seats to the Scottish Parliament
65 seats needed for a majority
|Turnout||Constituency - 55.8% 5.3 pp |
Regional - 55.8% 5.3pp
The left side shows constituency winners of the election by their party colours. The right side shows regional winners of the election for the additional members by their party colours.
The 2016 Scottish parliament election was held on Thursday, 5 May 2016 to elect 129 members to the Scottish Parliament. It was the fifth election held since the devolved parliament was established in 1999. It was the first parliamentary election in Scotland in which 16 and 17 year olds were eligible to vote, under the provisions of the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Act. It was also the first time the three largest parties were led by women.
Parliament went into dissolution on 24 March 2016, allowing the official period of campaigning to get underway. Five parties had MSPs in the previous parliament: Scottish National Party (SNP) led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Labour led by Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Conservatives led by Ruth Davidson, Scottish Liberal Democrats led by Willie Rennie, Scottish Greens, led by their co-conveners Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman. Of those five parties, four changed their leader since the 2011 election.
During the campaign, a series of televised debates took place, including party leaders of the elected parties. BBC Scotland held the first leaders’ debate on 24 March, STV broadcast the next on 29 March, and BBC Scotland hosted the final debate on 1 May.
The election resulted in a hung parliament with the Scottish National Party winning a third term in government, but falling two seats short of securing a second consecutive overall majority. The Conservatives saw a significant increase in support and replaced the Labour Party as the second-largest party and main opposition in the Scottish Parliament. This was the first time that Labour had finished in third place at a Scottish election in 98 years. The Scottish Greens won six seats on the regional list and overtook the Liberal Democrats, who remained on five seats.
Although the SNP had lost their majority, it was still by far the largest single party in the Scottish Parliament, with more than double the seats of the Conservatives. Accordingly, Sturgeon announced she would form a minority SNP government. She was voted in for a second term as First Minister on 17 May.
Under the Scotland Act 1998, an ordinary election to the Scottish Parliament would normally have been held on the first Thursday in May four years after the 2011 election, i.e. in May 2015. In May 2010, the new UK Government stated in its coalition agreement that the next United Kingdom general election would also be held in May 2015. This proposal was criticised by the Scottish National Party and Labour, as it had been recommended after the 2007 election that elections with different voting systems should be held on separate days: a recommendation which all of the political parties had then accepted. In response to this criticism, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg offered the right to vary the date of the Scottish Parliament election by a year either way. All the main political parties then stated their support for delaying the election by a year. The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, a statute of the UK Parliament, moved the date of the Scottish Parliament election to 5 May 2016.
If Parliament itself resolves that it should be dissolved, with at least two-thirds of the Members (i.e. 86 Members) voting in favour, the Presiding Officer proposes a date for an extraordinary election and the Parliament is dissolved by the monarch by royal proclamation.
It does not necessarily require a two-thirds majority to precipitate an extraordinary election, because under the Scotland Act Parliament is also dissolved if it fails to nominate one of its members to be First Minister within certain time limits, irrespective of whether at the beginning or in the middle of a parliamentary term. Therefore, if the First Minister resigned, Parliament would then have 28 days to elect a successor (s46(2)b and s46(3)a). If no new First Minister was elected then the Presiding Officer would ask for Parliament to be dissolved under s3(1)a. This process could also be triggered if the First Minister lost a vote of confidence by a simple majority (i.e. more than 50%), as s/he must then resign (Scotland Act 1998 s45(2)). To date the Parliament has never held a vote of no confidence in a First Minister.
No extraordinary elections have been held to date. Any extraordinary elections would be in addition to ordinary elections, unless held less than six months before the due date of an ordinary election, in which case they supplant it. The subsequent ordinary election reverts to the first Thursday in May, a multiple of four years after 1999.
Changes to the SNP's selection procedures the previous year in order to ensure gender balance of candidates meant that any incumbent constituency MSP who chose to retire would have their replacement selected from an all-woman shortlist. The only ways for a new male candidate to receive a constituency nomination would be to stand in a constituency currently held by an opposition MSP or to run a de-selection campaign against a sitting MSP. For that reason there were far more challenges than normal within the SNP, but only two were successful:
|Constituency||Selected candidate||Deselected MSP||Party||Retained position on regional list|
|Angus North and Mearns||Mairi Evans||Nigel Don||Scottish National Party||Yes (North East Scotland)|
|Edinburgh Western||Toni Giugliano||Colin Keir||Scottish National Party||No|
Election system, seats, and regions
The total number of Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) elected to the Parliament is 129.
The First Periodical Review of the Scottish Parliament's constituencies and regions by the Boundary Commission for Scotland, was announced on 3 July 2007. The Commission published its provisional proposals for the regional boundaries in 2009.
The Scottish Parliament uses an Additional Members System, designed to produce approximate proportional representation for each region. There are 8 regions, each sub-divided into smaller constituencies. There are a total of 73 constituencies. Each constituency elects one MSP by the plurality (first past the post) system of election. Each region elects 7 additional MSPs using an additional member system. A modified D'Hondt method, using the constituency results, is used to elect these additional MSPs.
The Scottish Parliament constituencies have not been coterminous with Scottish Westminster constituencies since the 2005 general election, when the 72 former UK Parliament constituencies were replaced with a new set of 59, generally larger, constituencies (see Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004). The boundaries used for the Scottish Parliament elections were then revised for the 2011 election. The Boundary Commission also recommended changes to the electoral regions used to elect "list" members of the Scottish Parliament, which were also implemented in 2011.
On 29 February 2016, BBC Scotland's Scotland 2016 current affairs programme held a debate focusing on education featuring the Education Minister Angela Constance and three party leaders: Kezia Dugdale, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie.
From 5–26 April 2016, Scotland 2016 also held a series of weekly subject debates on Tuesday nights. The subjects were Tax, Health, Energy & Environment, and Housing. Of these, six parties (SNP, Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, the Scottish Greens and UKIP) were invited to the Tax debate.
Parties contesting the election
The official nomination period closed on 1 April 2016, lists of candidates were then published by local councils once the applications had been processed.
In March 2015, the Scottish Greens balloted their members to select candidates for their regional lists. The SNP released their regional candidate list in October 2015. The Conservative regional candidate list followed in December. In January 2016, RISE – Scotland's Left Alliance announced list candidates for all regions except the North East. Labour had announced a new selection process for regional candidates in November 2013, then revealed their full list of regional candidates in February 2016. UKIP's regional candidates were picked by their executive committee, prompting one prospective candidate to resign his party membership.
Contesting constituency and regional ballot
The Scottish National Party, the Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Conservative Party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats fielded candidates in all 73 constituencies.
- Scottish National Party (SNP)
- Scottish Labour Party
- Scottish Conservative Party
- Scottish Liberal Democrats
- Scottish Green Party – contesting all regions and Coatbridge and Chryston, Edinburgh Central and Glasgow Kelvin constituencies.
- Scottish Libertarian Party − contesting West of Scotland, Mid Scotland Fife, North East Scotland region only and Edinburgh Central constituency
Contesting regional ballot only
- South Scotland Clydesdale and South Scotland Independent – contesting
- Communist Party – contesting North East Scotland
- National Front – contesting North East Scotland only
- RISE – Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism – contesting all regions
- Scottish Christian Party "Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship" – contesting Highlands and Islands and North East
- Solidarity – Scotland's Socialist Movement – contesting all regions
- UK Independence Party – contesting all regions
- Women's Equality Party – contesting Lothian and Glasgow
Contesting constituency ballot only
- Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC): Glasgow Cathcart, Glasgow Pollok, Glasgow Shettleston, Renfrewshire North and West, Dundee City East and Dundee City West
- Independent candidates
The chart shows the relative state of the parties since polling began from 2012, until the date of the election. The constituency vote is shown as semi-transparent lines, while the regional vote is shown in full lines.
|Party||Constituencies||Regional additional members||Total seats|
|A Better Britain – Unionist Party||—||—||—||—||—||2,453||0.1||new||0||new||0||new||0.0|
|Clydesdale and South Scotland Independent||909||0.0||new||0||new||1,485||0.1||new||0||new||0||new||0.0|
|Airdrie and Shotts||Alex Neil||SNP hold|
|Coatbridge and Chryston||Fulton MacGregor||SNP gain from Labour|
|Cumbernauld and Kilsyth||Jamie Hepburn||SNP hold|
|East Kilbride||Linda Fabiani||SNP hold|
|Falkirk East||Angus MacDonald||SNP hold|
|Falkirk West||Michael Matheson||SNP hold|
|Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse||Christina McKelvie||SNP hold|
|Motherwell and Wishaw||Clare Adamson||SNP gain from Labour|
|Uddingston and Bellshill||Richard Lyle||SNP gain from Labour|
|Glasgow Anniesland||Bill Kidd||SNP hold|
|Glasgow Cathcart||James Dornan||SNP hold|
|Glasgow Kelvin||Sandra White||SNP hold|
|Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn||Bob Doris||SNP gain from Labour|
|Glasgow Pollok||Humza Yousaf||SNP gain from Labour|
|Glasgow Provan||Ivan McKee||SNP gain from Labour|
|Glasgow Shettleston||John Mason||SNP hold|
|Glasgow Southside||Nicola Sturgeon||SNP hold|
|Rutherglen||Clare Haughey||SNP gain from Labour|
Highlands and Islands
|Argyll and Bute||Michael Russell||SNP hold|
|Caithness, Sutherland and Ross||Gail Ross||SNP hold|
|Inverness and Nairn||Fergus Ewing||SNP hold|
|Moray||Richard Lochhead||SNP hold|
|Na h-Eileanan an Iar||Alasdair Allan||SNP hold|
|Orkney||Liam McArthur||Liberal Democrats hold|
|Shetland||Tavish Scott||Liberal Democrats hold|
|Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch||Kate Forbes||SNP hold|
|Almond Valley||Angela Constance||SNP hold|
|Edinburgh Central||Ruth Davidson||Conservative gain from SNP|
|Edinburgh Eastern||Ash Denham||SNP hold|
|Edinburgh Northern and Leith||Ben Macpherson||SNP gain from Labour|
|Edinburgh Pentlands||Gordon MacDonald||SNP hold|
|Edinburgh Southern||Daniel Johnson||Labour gain from SNP|
|Edinburgh Western||Alex Cole-Hamilton||Liberal Democrats gain from SNP|
|Linlithgow||Fiona Hyslop||SNP hold|
|Midlothian North and Musselburgh||Colin Beattie||SNP hold|
Margo MacDonald had been elected on the Lothian regional list in 2011, as an Independent; she died in 2014.
Mid Scotland and Fife
|Clackmannanshire and Dunblane||Keith Brown||SNP hold|
|Cowdenbeath||Annabelle Ewing||SNP gain from Labour|
|Dunfermline||Shirley-Anne Somerville||SNP hold|
|Kirkcaldy||David Torrance||SNP hold|
|Mid Fife and Glenrothes||Jenny Gilruth||SNP hold|
|North East Fife||Willie Rennie||Liberal Democrats gain from SNP|
|Perthshire North||John Swinney||SNP hold|
|Perthshire South and Kinross-shire||Roseanna Cunningham||SNP hold|
|Stirling||Bruce Crawford||SNP hold|
North East Scotland
|Aberdeen Central||Kevin Stewart||SNP hold|
|Aberdeen Donside||Mark McDonald||SNP hold|
|Aberdeen South & North Kincardine||Maureen Watt||SNP hold|
|Aberdeenshire East||Gillian Martin||SNP hold|
|Aberdeenshire West||Alexander Burnett||Conservative gain from SNP|
|Angus North & Mearns||Mairi Evans||SNP hold|
|Angus South||Graeme Dey||SNP hold|
|Banffshire & Buchan Coast||Stewart Stevenson||SNP hold|
|Dundee City East||Shona Robison||SNP hold|
|Dundee City West||Joe Fitzpatrick||SNP hold|
|Liberal Democrats||Mike Rumbles||1||±0||18,444||6.0%||-0.8%|
|Ayr||John Scott||Conservative hold|
|Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley||Jeane Freeman||SNP hold|
|Clydesdale||Aileen Campbell||SNP hold|
|Dumfriesshire||Oliver Mundell||Conservative gain from Labour|
|East Lothian||Iain Gray||Labour hold|
|Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire||John Lamont||Conservative hold|
|Galloway and West Dumfries||Finlay Carson||Conservative hold|
|Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley||Willie Coffey||SNP hold|
|Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale||Christine Grahame||SNP hold|
|Clydebank and Milngavie||Gil Paterson||SNP hold|
|Cunninghame North||Kenneth Gibson||SNP hold|
|Cunninghame South||Ruth Maguire||SNP hold|
|Dumbarton||Jackie Baillie||Labour hold|
|Eastwood||Jackson Carlaw||Conservative gain from Labour|
|Greenock and Inverclyde||Stuart McMillan||SNP gain from Labour|
|Paisley||George Adam||SNP hold|
|Renfrewshire North and West||Derek Mackay||SNP hold|
|Renfrewshire South||Tom Arthur||SNP gain from Labour|
|Strathkelvin and Bearsden||Rona Mackay||SNP hold|
Below are listed all the constituencies which required a swing of less than 5% from the 2011 result to change hands.
|Rank||Constituency||Winning party 2011||Swing to gain||SNP's place 2011||Result|
|1||East Lothian||Labour||0.24||2nd||Labour Hold|
|2||Greenock & Inverclyde||Labour||0.91||2nd||SNP Gain|
|3||Edinburgh Northern & Leith||Labour||0.97||2nd||SNP Gain|
|4||Motherwell & Wishaw||Labour||1.21||2nd||SNP Gain|
|5||Uddingston & Bellshill||Labour||1.43||2nd||SNP Gain|
|6||Galloway & West Dumfries||Conservative||1.44||2nd||Conservative Hold|
|8||Glasgow Pollok||Labour||1.36||2nd||SNP Gain|
|11||Glasgow Maryhill & Springburn||Labour||3.15||2nd||SNP Gain|
|13||Renfrewshire South||Labour||4.81||2nd||SNP Gain|
|Rank||Constituency||Winning party 2011||Swing to gain||Labour's place 2011||Result|
|1||Glasgow Anniesland||SNP||0.02||2nd||SNP Hold|
|3||Edinburgh Central||SNP||0.41||2nd||Conservative Gain|
|5||Edinburgh Southern||SNP||1.03||2nd||Labour Gain|
|6||Aberdeen Central||SNP||1.23||2nd||SNP Hold|
|7||Clydebank & Milngavie||SNP||1.26||2nd||SNP Hold|
|8||Glasgow Shettleston||SNP||1.39||2nd||SNP Hold|
|9||Glasgow Kelvin||SNP||1.80||2nd||SNP Hold|
|10||Strathkelvin & Bearsden||SNP||2.67||2nd||SNP Hold|
|11||Renfrewshire North & West||SNP||2.85||2nd||SNP Hold|
|12||Glasgow Cathcart||SNP||3.04||2nd||SNP Hold|
|13||East Kilbride||SNP||3.26||2nd||SNP Hold|
|14||Edinburgh Eastern||SNP||3.64||2nd||SNP Hold|
|15||Airdrie and Shotts||SNP||4.19||2nd||SNP Hold|
|16||Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse||SNP||4.37||2nd||SNP Hold|
|17||Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley||SNP||4.50||2nd||SNP Hold|
|Rank||Constituency||Winning party 2011||Swing to gain||Con place 2011||Result|
|1||Edinburgh Pentlands||SNP||2.93||2nd||SNP Hold|
Liberal Democrat targets
|Rank||Constituency||Winning party 2011||Swing to gain||LD's place 2011||Result|
|1||Edinburgh Southern||SNP||2.45||3rd||Labour Gain|
|2||Edinburgh Western||SNP||4.02||2nd||Lib Dem Gain|
|3||North East Fife||SNP||4.37||2nd||Lib Dem Gain|
Other elections in the UK being held on the same day
- 2016 London Assembly election
- 2016 London mayoral election
- 2016 National Assembly for Wales election
- 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election
- 2016 United Kingdom local elections
UK parliamentary by-elections
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Most of the SNP's big names were re-elected - with Aileen McLeod the only former government minister to lose her seat - and they will be joined by 16 new faces.
- RISE – Scotland's Left Alliance: Another Scotland is possible
- Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party: A strong opposition - A stronger Scotland
- Scottish Green Party: A better Scotland needs a bolder Holyrood
- Scottish Liberal Democrats: Be the best again
- Scottish National Party: The next steps to a better Scotland
- UK Independence Party: Shake up Holyrood
- Women's Equality Party: Scotland Manifesto