The election will be held on Thursday, 5 May 2016. The aim is to elect 129 members to the Scottish Parliament. There was some concern, as the ordinary general election was (according to the Scotland Act 1998) to be held in May 2015. This is because the election is supposed to be held on the first Thursday of May four years after 2011. Due to criticism from the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Labour, the fact that the UK general election was to be held in May 2015 as well led to the deferral of the Scottish general election to May of this year.

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 – a statute of Westminster – formally moved the date to 5 May 2016. The legislation relating to the Scottish Parliament may be found in Section 4. The Act also states that parliamentary elections must be held every five years, beginning in 2015.

Who are the MSPs and how are they elected?

MSPs are Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), and their role is to represent those who vote for them in the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Parliament may pass laws on devolved matters. According to the Scottish Parliament website, this is matters affecting the day-to-day life in Scotland, and may include “agriculture, forestry and fisheries, education and training, environment, health and social services, housing, economic development, etc”.

What is Further Powers?

The UK Government introduced the Scotland Bill into Westminster on 28 May 2015. The bill set out proposals for new powers. It will continue to be the topic of future elections. The proposed powers range from elections, taxation, and welfare benefits/employment support. The bill has reached committee stage at Westminster, and further amendments will be discussed 19 January.

What are the seats currently held?

At this time SNP holds 64 seats, Labour 38, and Conservative 15. The smaller parties (Liberal Democrats and Scottish Green) hold 5 and 2 seats, respectively. 65 seats are needed by any one party for it to hold majority. The First Minister is currently Nicola Sturgeon, SNP.

What were the results from the 2011 election?

The current seats reflect the results from the 2011 election. SNP hold the majority, with Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and Green holding power in declining order. The seats showed a strong reflection of the option polls – which may be used as a good indication of things to come.

Election Results - 2011
Election Results – 2011

Who is leaving?

The majority of MSPs are retiring. 8 from SNP, 8 from Labour, 7 from Conservative and the Presiding Officer. Two MSPs will be deselected, both from SNP.

Opinion Polling

The recent polling numbers from first-past-the-post (FPTP) and Additional Member System (AMS) occurred at the end of November of early December. SNP held the lead in both throughout 2015.

What are the target seats?

Each party has a keen interest in seats with a low swing, especially with those of a swing less than 5%. If seats with a swing of less than 5% are considered viable objective for the parties, then SNP has 13 targets, the majority of them Labour. Labour has 17 – all of those SNP. Conservative may have 3 – 1 SNP and 2 Labour. Lib Dem has a chance for three, all SNP and none with a swing below 2.45.

General Thoughts

While at the current figures it appears that SNP are a sure bet to hold majority in the Scottish Parliament, the combined efforts of the Labour and Conservative party may cause some changes in the polls in the coming months. Due to Labour’s general loss in Scotland, as well as at Westminster, any drastic changes in the seats would be unusual at this time. Their focus would be pro-business and with an emphasis on taxation. The Conservative party has continued with the One Nation and lower taxation stances. Leading up to the election there will be focus on the changes proposed and enacted in education, health, and the environment – all important parts of the SNP platform.

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