Scottish Parliament general election, 2016

Scottish Parliament general election, 2016
Scottish Parliament general election, 2016
2011 ←
5 May 2016
→ 2020

All 129 seats to the Scottish Parliament
65 Seats are needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
  Alex Salmond (crop).JPG
Leader Alex Salmond TBA Ruth Davidson
Party SNP Labour Conservative
Leader since 3 September 2004   4 November 2011
Leader's seat Aberdeenshire East   Glasgow
Last election 69 seats, 44.0% 37 seats, 26.3% 15 seats, 12.4%
Current seats 69 37 15
Seats Needed decrease4 increase28 increase50

  Fourth party Fifth party
  Willie Rennie MP Liverpool.jpg PatrickHarvieMSPSquare.jpg
Leader Willie Rennie Patrick Harvie (pictured) /
Eleanor Scott
Party Liberal Democrats Scottish Green
Leader since 17 May 2011
Leader's seat Mid Scotland and Fife Glasgow /
Last election 5 seats, 5.2% 2 seats, 4.4%
Current seats 5 2
Seats Needed increase60 increase63

First Minister before election

Alex Salmond

Elected First Minister


The 2016 Scottish Parliament general election is due to be held on Thursday 5 May 2016 to elect 129 members to the Scottish Parliament. It would be the fifth general election since the devolved parliament was established in 1999.



Under the Scotland Act 1998, an ordinary general election to the Scottish Parliament would normally be held on the first Thursday in May four years after the 2011 election, ie. in May 2015.[1] However, in May 2010, the new UK Government stated in the coalition agreement that the next United Kingdom general election would also be held in May 2015.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] All the main political parties then stated their support for delaying the election by a year.[5][6]

The date of the poll may be varied by up to one month either way by the monarch, on the proposal of the Presiding Officer.[1]

If Parliament itself resolves that it should be dissolved, with at least two-thirds of the Members (ie. 86 Members) voting in favour, the Presiding Officer proposes a date for an extraordinary general 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 general 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 is 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 (ie. more than 50%), as he must then resign (Scotland Act 1998 s45(2)). To date the Parliament has never held a confidence vote on a First Minister.

No extraordinary general elections have been held to date. Any extraordinary general elections would be in addition to ordinary general elections, unless held less than six months before the due date of an ordinary general election, in which case they supplant it. The subsequent ordinary general election reverts to the first Thursday in May, a multiple of four years after 1999.[7]

2011 results

The table below shows the figures for seats won by each party at the 2011 election. In the days after the 2011 election, which resulted in an SNP overall majority, Iain Gray, Annabel Goldie and Tavish Scott resigned as leaders of the Scottish Labour Party, Scottish Conservative Party and Scottish Liberal Democrats respectively.[8]

Party Constituency Seats Regional Seats Total Seats
SNP 53 16 69
Labour 15 22 37
Conservative 3 12 15
Liberal Democrat 2 3 5
Scottish Green 0 2 2
Margo McDonald 0 1 1
Totals 73 56 129

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-divied 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 member MSPs using a additional member system. A modified D'Hondt method, using the constituency results, is used to calculate which additional member MSPs the regions elect.[9][10]

The Scottish Parliament constituencies have not been coterminous with Scottish Westminster constituencies since the 2005 general election, when the 72 former Westminster 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,[11] which were also implemented in 2011.

Top target seats of the main parties

Below are listed all the constituencies which required a swing of less than 5% from the 2011 result to change hands.

SNP targets

Rank Constituency Winning party 2011 Swing to gain SNP's place 2011 Result
1 East Lothian Labour 0.24 2nd
2 Greenock & Inverclyde Labour 0.91 2nd
3 Edinburgh Northern & Leith Labour 0.97 2nd
4 Motherwell & Wishaw Labour 1.21 2nd
5 Uddingston & Bellshill Labour 1.43 2nd
6 Galloway & West Dumfries Conservative 1.44 2nd
7 Ayr Conservative 1.67 2nd
8 Glasgow Pollok Labour 1.36 2nd
9 Cowdenbeath Labour 2.43 2nd
10 Dumbarton Labour 2.87 2nd
11 Glasgow Maryhill & Springburn Labour 3.15 2nd
12 Rutherglen Labour 3.28 2nd
13 Renfrewshire South Labour 4.81 2nd

Conservative targets

Rank Constituency Winning party 2011 Swing to gain Con place 2011 Result
1 Edinburgh Pentlands SNP 2.93 2nd
2 Eastwood Labour 3.16 2nd
3 Dumfriesshire Labour 4.97 2nd

Labour targets

Rank Constituency Winning party 2011 Swing to gain Labour's place 2011 Result
1 Glasgow Anniesland SNP 0.02 2nd
2 Kirkcaldy SNP 0.33 2nd
3 Edinburgh Central SNP 0.41 2nd
4 Paisley SNP 0.49 2nd
5 Dunfermline SNP 1.01 2nd
6 Edinburgh Southern SNP 1.03 2nd
7 Aberdeen Central SNP 1.23 2nd
8 Clydebank & Milngavie SNP 1.26 2nd
9 Glasgow Shettleston SNP 1.39 2nd
10 Glasgow Kelvin SNP 1.80 2nd
11 Strathkelvin & Bearsden SNP 2.67 2nd
12 Renfrewshire North & West SNP 2.85 2nd
13 Glasgow Cathcart SNP 3.04 2nd
14 East Kilbride SNP 3.26 2nd
15 Edinburgh Eastern SNP 3.64 2nd
16 Airdrie and Shotts SNP 4.19 2nd
17 Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse SNP 4.37 2nd
18 Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley SNP 4.50 2nd

Liberal Democrat targets

Rank Constituency Winning party 2011 Swing to gain LD's place 2011 Result
1 Edinburgh Southern SNP 2.45 3rd
2 Edinburgh Western SNP 4.02 2nd
3 North East Fife SNP 4.37 2nd


  1. ^ a b "Scotland Act 1998 - Section 2 Ordinary General Elections". Office of Public Sector Information. Retrieved 8 May 2007. 
  2. ^ Travis, Alan (13 May 2010). "Fixed five-year parliamentary term will tie both leaders' hands". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "Coalition asked to respect Scottish elections". Scottish National Party. 31 May 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "UK government offers Holyrood five-year terms". BBC News. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "Salmond back Scotland 2015 election delay". BBC News. 18 February 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  6. ^ McNab, Scott (19 February 2011). "Holyrood set for a five-year term to avoid clash with general election". The Scotsman. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "Scotland Act 1998 - Section 3 Extraordinary General Elections". Office of Public Sector Information. Retrieved 8 May 2007. 
  8. ^ "Scots Tory leader Annabel Goldie announces resignation". BBC News. 9 May 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2011. 
  9. ^ "Electoral system: How it works, 02 April 2003". BBC News Online. 2003-04-02. Retrieved 2011-05-06. 
  10. ^ D'Hondt system, BBC News Online, 28 September 2009. Accessed 4 May 2011
  11. ^ "Revised Recommendationzs". Boundary Commission for Scotland. Retrieved 26 April 2011. 

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