Scottish Elections 101

OK, let’s talk about Scottish Elections…

On the 6th May, voters will head to the polling stations across Scotland. But how do these elections work?

The Scottish Parliament uses a hybrid electoral system called the Additional Member System (AMS) to elect our 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). Every voter in Scotland has 2 votes – one for a constituency MSP and one for a party on the regional list.

But what’s the difference?

Your Constituency MSP will represent you in parliament. They are one of 73 constituency MSPs who are elected through the First Past the Post system - meaning the candidate who obtains the most votes becomes the MSP for the constituency.

The country is then divided up into eight regions, each allocated 7 MSPs. These 56 Regional MSPs are selected from party lists in the hopes of making the overall result in each region more representative and more fairly reflect each political party’s electoral support.

So, let’s talk about who you could vote for…

Lots of parties are standing in the 2021 elections, but the main five you will hear about are the Scottish National Party, the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour, Scottish Greens and Scottish Liberal Democrats. But what do they stand for?

Scottish National Party

Led by Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP’s key policies include holding a second post-Covid independence referendum, building 100,000 new homes by 2032 with 70% being for social rent, launching a National Care Service and provide rail services within the public sector. The SNP oppose nuclear weapons.

Credit - Wikimedia Commons

Scottish Conservatives

Led by Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservatives oppose a second independence referendum and want to end division through rebuilding the country post-pandemic. Some of their key policies include a nationwide tutoring scheme as part of a school catch up plan which would hire 3000 extra teachers. They also want a law that guarantees the funding that the Scottish Government would have to pay local authorities.

Credit - Wikimedia Commons

Scottish Labour

Led by Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour want to guarantee a job for every young Scot, invest in the NHS and develop an education comeback plan with a focus on IT support to schools. As well as a community recovery fund with investment in local areas, they seek to use the hosting of COP26 as part of a climate justice plan.

Credit - Wikimedia Commons

Scottish Greens

Led by joint leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, the Scottish Green Party’s key policies include a green and fair recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic and tackling the climate emergency through direct investment in renewable energy and transport. They would also like to re-join the European Union as an independent country.

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Scottish Liberal Democrats

Led by Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrats oppose a second referendum and want to put pandemic recovery first. They’re also promising an education bounce back plan and the training of more mental health specialists for community centres, schools, hospitals and workplaces.

So keep all this in mind, come May the 6th.