Your Guide to the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections

When is the election and what’s being decided?

The election takes place between 7am and 10pm on Thursday the 5th of May.  The people of Scotland will elect 129 MSPs to serve the next five years in the Scottish Parliament.  The party with the most MSPs will form the next Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government is in charge of areas such as healthcare, education, policing.

There will also be new powers over income tax, some welfare payments and other social issues to be decided by the Government in the next few years, meaning it that the Scottish Government will be more important in everyone’s life than it has ever been before.

Who can I vote for?

You can read more about the parties that are standing and their policies from their manifesto, or you can read a summary here:

scot-con-logoConservatives
Summary | Manifesto
Liberal Democrats
Summary | Manifesto
rise logoRISE – Scotland’s Left Alliance
Summary | Manifesto
Can I vote?

All adults over the age of 16 in Scotland who are registered to vote can take part in these elections.  If you have registered, you should have already received a polling card or will receive one in the next few weeks telling you where you can vote.

If you haven’t registered yet, or don’t know if you have registered – get in touch with your local Electoral Office today and make sure you’re able to vote or register online in just 5 minutes.

How do I vote?

scot-parl-ballot-paperVisit your polling station on election day (Thursday 5th May) and you’ll be given your voting papers.

You have two votes in this election, and the ballot paper will look like the picture here on the right.

The first column is for the party you would like to represent your region, which contains several constituencies.  The second is for the individual who you would like to represent your constituency.

You vote by putting a cross next to the box of the person or party you want to vote for, remembering to vote only once in each column.  You can choose different parties in each of these votes or choose the same in both if you want.

How are the winners decided?

The person with the most votes in your constituency will be elected as the MSP and will represent you and your constituents at Holyrood.

For the regional MSPs elected by the party list things are more complicated.  Each region elects 7 MSPs but to decide which parties get these MSP positions a form of proportional representation called the Additional Member System (AMS) is used.  This means that the number of constituencies won is taken into account before awarding the regional seats.  The seats are then awarded one-by-one to the party with the most number of votes divided by the number of seats they have already won.  You can learn more about AMS here.

Who’s going to win?

At the moment it is likely that the SNP will win and be able to form another majority government, with the polls suggesting that they will win most of Scotland’s constituencies and pick up some seats on the regional lists too.

Here is the current poll-of-polls for both the constituency and regional votes across Scotland:

Const. List
SNP 53% 46%
Labour 21% 19%
Conservatives 17% 17%
Liberal Democrats 6% 5%
Green 9%
UKIP 2%
Other 3% 1%

If results on election day go as above, this is what the results of the elections could be:

Party Cons Region MSPs Change
SNP 68 4 72 3
Labour 1 24 25 -12
Conservatives 2 17 19 4
Liberal Democrats 2 2 4 -1
Green 0 9 9 7
UKIP 0 0 0 0
RISE 0 0 0 0

However, this is just a prediction and nothing is decided until the vote itself.  You are part of the decision-making process, so vote for the candidate and party that you think will do the best job of representing the views of your constituency, your region and Scotland.

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