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The 2007 Scottish Parliament election was held on Thursday 3 May 2007 to elect members to the Scottish Parliament. It was the third general election to the devolved Scottish Parliamentmarker since it was created in 1999. Local elections in Scotland fell on the same day.

The Scottish National Party emerged as the largest party with 47 seats, closely followed by the incumbent Scottish Labour Party with 46 seats. The Scottish Conservatives won 17 seats, the Scottish Liberal Democrats 16 seats, the Scottish Green Party 2 seats and one Independent (Margo MacDonald) was also elected. The Scottish National Party formed a minority government as a result of the election, with support from the Greens on certain issues.

The Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party, which won seats in the 2003 election, lost all of their seats. Former MSP Tommy Sheridan's new party, Solidarity, also failed to win any seats. Campbell Martin and Dr Jean Turner both lost their seats, and Dennis Canavan and Brian Monteith retired.

Background

The main issues during the campaign trail were healthcare, education, council tax reform, pensions, the Union, Trident (the submarines are based in Scotland), the Iraq War and more powers for the Scottish Parliament. Some parties are planning to raise the school leaving age from 16 to 18 and raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 16 to 18.

Jack McConnell, as First Minister, entered the election defending a small overall majority of five seats via a coalition of Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The Scottish Executive coalition government had been in power, with three different First Ministers, since the first Scottish Parliament election in 1999. Opinion polls suggested its majority could be lost in 2007, due to falling support for the Labour Party and rising support for other parties, in particular the Scottish National Party . The polls suggested that no single party was likely to acquire an overall majority, nor was there an obvious alternative coalition ready to form a new Executive.

Polls suggested that the SNP, second place behind Labour in terms of numbers of Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), would gain seats while Labour's support would decline. Based on pre-election projections, there could have been some possibility of an SNP-Liberal Democrat coalition, which might have extended to include the Scottish Green Party.The other parties represented in the Parliament before the election were the Scottish Conservative Party, the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), Solidarity and the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party. (Solidarity is a new party, having broken away from the SSP in 2006.)

Other parties that campaigned for seats in Holyrood included the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), the British National Party (BNP), the Scottish Unionist Party, the Scottish Socialist Labour Party, the Christian Peoples Alliance and the Scottish Christian Party.

Election system

There are 73 constituencies, each electing one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) by the plurality (first past the post) system of election, which are grouped into eight regions. These regions each elect seven additional member MSPs so as to produce an overall proportional result. The D'Hondt method is used to calculate which additional member MSPs the regions elect. Each constituency is a sub-division of a region; the additional members system is designed to produce proportional representation for each region, and the total number of MSPs elected to the parliament is 129.

The election was the first using constituencies (see Scottish Parliament constituencies and regions) that are not identical to constituencies of the House of Commonsmarker (Parliament of the United Kingdommarker). Scottish Westminster constituencies were replaced with a new set of generally larger constituencies, fewer in number, in 2005.


The Arbuthnott Commission reported in January 2006, concerning the multiplicity of voting systems and electoral divisions in Scotland. Council elections on the same day used Single Transferable Vote for the first time, but there was no change to the Holyrood election system, except regarding use of vote-counting machines, before the 2007 election. Scanners supplied by DRS Data Services Limited of Milton Keynesmarker, in partnership with Electoral Reform Services, the trading arm of the Electoral Reform Society, were used to electronically count the paper ballots in both the Scottish Parliament general election and the Scottish council elections, which took place on the same day.

Election results



Notes: Independentscontested 17 seats and three regions. Scottish Greens contested 1 seat, Scottish Socialist Party contested 1 seat, Scottish Christian Party, Scottish Voice etc contested a small number of seats. A number of local issue parties also stood in single constituencies. The result of the Nine Per Cent Growth Party, placing last with only 80 votes, was a record low for a party in a Scottish election.

Constituency and regional summary

Central Scotland

Glasgow

Highlands and Islands

Lothians

Mid Scotland and Fife

North East Scotland

South of Scotland

West of Scotland

Incidents

Delayed counts

Some counts in the Western Islesmarker (Barramarker & the Uistsmarker) were delayed because the chartered helicopter sent to pick up the ballot boxes was delayed by bad weather.The boxes were instead transferred by sea and road to be counted in Stornowaymarker.The votes were announced around 12.00 on Friday 4 May.

Vandalism

A man smashed ballot boxes with a golf club at a polling station at Carrick Knowemarker in Corstorphinemarker in Edinburghmarker.About 100 ballots were damaged, some having to be tapedback together. The man was arrested on the scene.

High number of rejected votes

The number of 'invalid' ballot papers has increased dramatically from previous elections, and the BBC reported that almost 142,000 (or 7% of the total votes cast) were rejected. The Herald reports that this includes both constituency and regional votes, and hence the number of individual voters is likely to be considerably less. Nevertheless there have been calls for an independent enquiry into the implementation of the new voting system. The BBC ScotlandChief Political Editor, Brian Taylor, described the situation as "a disgrace" during their Election Night coverage.

Almost certainly the biggest reason for the increase in invalid ballots was that in the vote for the parliament, the ballot papers for the constituency elections were combined with that for the regional lists. A large-type instruction at the top indicated "you have two votes." Being told that they had two votes, far too many voters used both votes on parties in the regional list.
This misleading ballot was made more complicated by two additional features of the balloting: several small parties like the Green Party ran one or fewer candidates in the constituency seats and parties were able to choose to put the name of their leader in the party label for the list seats. Such poor ballot design decisions contributed to a similarly higher rate of spoiled ballots in the 2000 United States presidential election in areas of Florida such as Miami-Dade and Duval counties.


Another reason presented is that voters were given two papers with two different systems and a different design - one for the parliamentary election where voters marked a cross and one for local councils where they placed numbers as the council elections were being done under the single transferable votesystem. Undercutting this theory, however, is the fact that the invalid rate in the local elections was far lower despite being the single transferable vote being a new system for most voters.

A third proposed reason has been that this was the first election where electronic counting of papers has taken place. Many blame e-counting for the increase in rejected papers, in part because the new machine counting did not go smoothly, with many counts abandoned during the early hours of Friday morning before all results had been counted. The main company concerned has been DRS Ltd. Nevertheless nearly all invalid ballots would have been spoiled no matter how they were counted. However, the last minute redesign of ballot papers that is blamed for the high number of rejections in two electoral regions was done to make electronic voting easier.

Threatened legal actions

On 5 May 2007, the BBC reported that Labour were considering legal action against some results (particularly Cunninghame North, where the SNP beat Labour by just 48 votes) due to the high number of rejected votes.. A further challenge was expected from Mike Dailly from the Govan Law Centre, a member of the Labour Party, purportedly on behalf of voters in the Glasgow region. He said that the result should be challenged because there were 10,000 rejected ballots which could have caused a different result if they had counted. Tommy Sheridanof Solidaritywas only 2215 votes short of beating the Greens for the last place as an MSP.

There were no election petitions raised to challenge the results.

Party leaders

Major parties

At time of dissolution of the Scottish Parliament at midnight on Monday 2 April 2007, there were five party 'groups' represented on the Parliament's Bureau: Labour (50), SNP (25), Conservative (17), LibDem (17), and the Greens (7). There was also one 'mixed' administrative grouping of 5 independent MSPs and 1 Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party MSP.

Of the major party leaders in the Scottish Parliament, only one, Jack McConnell, of the Scottish Labour Partyfought the 2003 Scottish Parliamentary election as leader. Nicol Stephen succeeded Jim Wallaceas Deputy First Minister and Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats in June 2005, after the latter announced that he would not be contesting the 2007 election. Alex Salmond was elected leader of the Scottish National Party in 2004, with his deputy Nicola Sturgeon. Salmond previously led the SNP between 1990 and 2000, but stood down and was replaced by his preferred successor John Swinney, who headed the party between 2000 and 2004. After Swinney's resignation in 2004, Salmond announced that he would, once again contest the leadership and won the ballot of members in June 2004. Annabel Goldie was elected leader of the Scottish Conservativesin November 2005 after the resignation of the incumbent David McLetchieon 31 October 2005 after a row surrounding taxiexpenses.

Minor parties

Robin Harperand Shiona Bairdwere elected as Scottish Green PartyCo-convenors in 2004, but as the sole Green MSP Robin Harper was effectively party spokespersonfrom 1999.

Colin Foxwas elected as the Scottish Socialist PartyConvenor in 2005.

Opinion polls

Top target seats of the main parties

Below are listed all the constituencies which required a swingof less than 5% from the 2003 result to change hands.

Many of the seats that changed hands are not listed here. For example, the Scottish National Party gained several seats (Stirling, Edinburgh East & Musselburgh, Gordon, Livingstonmarker and Argyll & Bute) with very large swings, yet did not gain any of their top three targets.

Labour targets



SNP targets



Conservative targets



Liberal Democrat targets



MSPs who retired at the general election

Labour



Scottish National Party



Conservative



Liberal Democrats



Scottish Socialist Party



Independents



See also



References

  1. "Electronic counting to take over from tellers at elections", The Scotsman, 19 April 2006
  2. "Green light for DRS & ERS to deliver e-Count for 2007 Scottish Elections", press release, DRS Data Services Limited
  3. Polling clerk tells of 'bedlam', BBC News website, 2007-05-03
  4. Rejected ballots '7% of the vote', BBC News website, 2007-05-09
  5. Elections marred by vote problems, BBC News website, 2007-05-03
  6. The Scotsman
  7. http://www.drs.co.uk/
  8. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/6656181.stm
  9. http://www.alba.org.uk/scot07/retiring.html
  10. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/6136904.stm
  11. http://election.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=2248382005
  12. http://www.alba.org.uk/scot07/retiring.html
  13. http://www.alba.org.uk/scot07/retiring.html
  14. http://www.alba.org.uk/scot07/retiring.html
  15. http://www.alba.org.uk/scot07/retiring.html
  16. http://www.alba.org.uk/scot07/retiring.html
  17. http://www.alba.org.uk/scot07/retiring.html
  18. http://election.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=2248382005
  19. http://election.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=2248382005
  20. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/6512689.stm
  21. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/tayside_and_central/6289637.stm
  22. http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=1091&id=1616472006


External links



  Total 2,016,978 51.8 +2.5 73   2,042,109   56 129  
2007 Scottish Parliament Election - Party Leaders
Scottish National Party
Labour Party
Conservative Party
Liberal Democrats
Alex Salmond

Leader of the Scottish National Party
Jack McConnell

Leader of the

Scottish Labour Party
Annabel Goldie

Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party
Nicol Stephen

Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Age
52
Age
46
Age
57
Age
47
Parliament
Scottish Parliament - 2 years (1999-2001)

& UK Parliament - 19 years (1987-present)
Parliament
7 years
Parliament
7 years
Parliament
Scottish Parliament - 7 years

& UK Parliament - 5 months (1991-1992)
Leader since
1990-2000

& 2004
Leader since
2001
Leader since
2005
Leader since
2005
Profession
Economist
Profession
Teacher
Profession
Solicitor
Profession
Solicitor
Rank
Constituency
Winning party 2003
Swing to gain
Labour's place 2003
Result
1
Dundee East

0.17
2nd
SNP hold
2
Edinburgh South

0.26
2nd
LD hold
3
Ochil

0.49
2nd
SNP hold
4
Strathkelvin and Bearsden

0.62
2nd
Lab gain
5
Aberdeen North

0.92
2nd
SNP hold
6
Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber

1.51
2nd
SNP hold
7
Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale

2.70
3rd
LD hold
8
Ayr

2.99
2nd
Con hold
9
Edinburgh Pentlands

3.16
2nd
Con hold
10
Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

4.96
2nd
LD hold
Rank
Constituency
Winning party 2003
Swing to gain
SNP's place 2003
Result
1
Galloway & Upper Nithsdale

0.17
2nd
Con hold
2
Tweeddale, Ettrick & Lauderdale

1.01
2nd
LD hold
3
Cumbernauld & Kilsyth

1.07
2nd
Lab hold
4
Kilmarnock & Loudoun

1.92
2nd
SNP gain
5
Dundee West

2.13
2nd
SNP gain
6
Western Isles

2.91
2nd
SNP gain
7
Glasgow Govan

2.92
2nd
SNP gain
8
Aberdeen Central

2.96
2nd
Lab hold
9
Linlithgow

3.56
2nd
Lab hold
10
West Renfrewshiremarker

4.41
2nd
Lab hold
11
Paisley South

4.91
2nd
Lab hold
Rank
Constituency
Winning party 2003
Swing to gain
Con place 2003
Result
1
Perth

1.15
2nd
SNP hold
2
Dumfries

1.71
2nd
Lab hold
3
Tweeddale, Ettrick & Lauderdale

2.83
4th
LD hold
4
Eastwood

4.76
2nd
Lab hold
5
Stirling

4.86
2nd
SNP gain
6
West Renfrewshiremarker

4.96
3rd
Lab hold
Rank
Constituency
Winning party 2003
Swing to gain
LD's place 2003
Result
1
Edinburgh Central

4.75
2nd
Lab hold
2
Aberdeen Central

4.99
3rd
Lab hold

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