The May 2007 election in Scotland for the Scottish Parliament saw a big increase in support for the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP). The SNP’s have promised a referendum on the issue of independence from the Union but the vagaries of proportional representation has meant that no single party has gained overall control of the Parliament based in Edinburgh. Therefore, in the initial aftermath of the election, the SNP’s, as the party with the largest number of seats, will have to find a partner or partners in a coalition government. Alternatively, the other parties, all of whom have stated their opposition to independence, may form a coalition that might keep the SNP out of power – gthough, on paper, this seems highly unlikely. However, the onus is on the SNP to find support for a coalition.


The result:


SNP 47 MSP’s; 21 won at Constituency level and 26 at Regional.


Labour 46 MSP’s; 37 won at Constituency level and 9 at Regional.


Cons 17 MSP’s; 4 at Constituency level and 13 at Regional.


Lib Dems 16 MSP’s; 11 won at Constituency 11 and 5 at Regional.


Others 3 MSP’s; 0 at Constituency level and 3 at Regional.


SNP +20 from previous election


Lab –4 from previous election


Cons –1 from previous election


LD –1 from previous election


Others 3


Main issue:


No party has an overall control of the Scottish Parliament. One day after the poll, the SNP is having to horse-trade to get support to form a viable majority (but coalition) government. The main party likely to support the SNP is the Lib Dems – but they are adamantly against even a referendum linked to leaving the UK. Though the SNP is Scotland’s largest party within its borders it still does not have sufficient electoral clout to form a government without support. A possible compromise? The Lib Dems may well come on board with the SNP and will accept a commission into how popular the concept of leaving the union really is within Scotland so that hard core statistics are available to all that give a clear idea as to what the people of Scotland as a whole really want.


100,000 postal ballot papers were classed as spoilt. Instead of marking an order of preference, many put a cross next to those they supported thus invalidating their vote. The Electoral Commission is already investigating. This brings back memories of Florida 2000. On the face of it, the ballot paper would almost certainly confuse some – in this case 100,000 voters. What impact this would have had on the final results will never be known but it does little to bring confidence to a system of proportional representation when so many had their democratic rights hindered.


Two days after the election results, two potential legal challenges to the results have been announced.There may be two legal moves regarding the 100,000 spoiled ballot papers in Scotland. One may occur for the Glasgow region where an estimated 10,000 ballots papers were not counted as they were deemed to have been spoiled. The second may be in Cunninghame North where the Labour candidate, Allan Wilson, was narrowly defeated by 48 votes by the SNP candidate. There were 1,000 rejected ballot papers here and the local Labour Party may contest the result. With both Labour and the SNP so close at a national level in Scotland – separated by just one seat – the implications for the overall make-up of the Scottish Parliament could be marked with the possibility of Labour ending up with equal seats to the SNP. However, nothing has been decided one way or the other yet.