2017 Scottish local elections

The 2017 Scottish local elections were held on Thursday 4 May, in all 32 local authorities. The SNP retained its position as the largest party in terms of votes and councillors, despite suffering minor losses. The Conservatives made gains and displaced Labour as the second largest party, while the Liberal Democrats suffered a net loss of councillors despite increasing their share of the vote.[4] Minor parties and independents polled well; and independent councillors retained majority control over the three island councils. For the first time since the local government reforms in 1995, all mainland councils fell under no overall control.

2017 Scottish local elections

 2012 4 May 2017 (2017-05-04) 2022 

All 1,227 seats[1] to 32 Scottish councils
Turnout46.9% (7.3%)
  First party Second party
Leader Nicola Sturgeon Ruth Davidson
Party SNP Conservative
Leader since 14 November 2014 4 November 2011
Last election 425 seats, 32.33% 115 seats, 13.27%
Seats before 438[2] 112[2]
Seats won 431 276
Seat change 7*[3] 164*[3]
First preferences 610,454 478,073
First preferences (%) 32.30% 25.30%
Swing (pp) 0.03% 12.03%

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Kezia Dugdale Willie Rennie
Party Labour Liberal Democrats
Leader since 15 August 2015 17 May 2011
Last election 394 seats, 31.39% 71 seats, 6.62%
Seats before 395[2] 70[2]
Seats won 262 67
Seat change 133*[3] 3*[3]
First preferences 380,957 128,821
First preferences (%) 20.16% 6.82%
Swing (pp) 11.23% 0.20%

Most voted for party by council, largest party by council, and largest party by ward. Ward map utilises the new ward boundaries.
* Indicates boundary change - so this is a nominal figure


The previous election was in 2012. Normally these elections take place every four years, but this election was postponed for a year in order to avoid conflicting with the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.

Once again the local elections were counted electronically, using the same system used in 2012. The tender was awarded to CGI (formerly Logica) and Idox Elections (formerly Opt2vote), both of which delivered the 2012 elections successfully.[citation needed]

Eligibility to vote

All registered electors (British, Irish, Commonwealth and European Union citizens) who were aged 16 or over on polling day were entitled to vote in the local elections.[5][6] A person who had two homes (such as a university student who has a term-time address and lives at home during holidays) could register to vote at both addresses as long as they are not in the same electoral area and can vote for two different councils, albeit only in two different local elections; however, it is an offence to vote twice in the same type of election and doing so may incur a fine of up to £5,000.[7]

Individuals must have registered to vote by midnight twelve working days before polling day (17 April 2017).[8] Anyone who qualified as an anonymous elector had until midnight on 25 April 2017 to register.[9]

Party performance

Following the election, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon played down the threat posed by the Conservatives to her party, asserting that the good performance by the Conservatives was on account of Labour support going to the Conservatives and not because of any shift in SNP voters.[10]

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson asserted a "Scottish fightback against the SNP" and said that the results represented a resurgence for the Conservatives, despite the fact that the SNP's 1st preference vote percentage had not changed since the 2012 election.[11]

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale admitted the results were disappointing for her party, while the Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said the council results showed his party could stand against the SNP tide in key northern constituencies.[12]



The Scottish Conservatives returned the most councillors, the first time it has been the largest party in the region since the 1982 election, when the area was under the Grampian Regional Council, although they were stopped short of an overall majority. The number of Scottish National Party councillors fell by a quarter but remained the second largest group. The Scottish Liberal Democrats picked up a couple of seats while the other parties gained roughly the same results as the previous election.

On 18 May, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Aligned Independents formed an administration, with Jim Gifford (Conservative) elected as council leader and Bill Howatson (Liberal Democrat) was made Provost.[13]

Argyll and Bute

The SNP became the largest party on the council for the first time, as the Independent group lost a third of its seats compared to the previous election. The Conservatives gained five seats and the Liberal Democrats gained two, but both remained in their respective places as the two smaller parties.

Despite the SNP's position, a coalition was formed of Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents, referred to as The Argyll Lomond and the Isles Group (TALIG). Aileen Morton, leader of the group, was elected as council leader.[14]


The Scottish National Party replaced Scottish Labour as the largest party for the first time in the Fife region, although they did not gain enough seats to form a majority. The Scottish Conservatives made the most gains, replacing the Scottish Liberal Democrats as the third biggest party. The election also returned no Independent councillors, marking the first time the area will be without any Independent representation since the creation of Fife Regional Council in 1974.

On 18 May, the two largest parties of the new council, the SNP and Scottish Labour, signed a Power Sharing Agreement to co-run an administration. David Alexander (SNP) and David Ross (Labour) were made co-leaders, and Jim Leishman remained in his role as Provost.[15]


The SNP replaced Labour as the biggest party; although without a majority it ended Labour's 37-year-long control of the council.[16] The Conservatives increased its number of councillors from 1 to 8, their highest since 1984, while the Scottish Green Party also made a couple of gains to reach their highest ever level in Glasgow. This council is the first without any Liberal representation since 1974.

The SNP took control of the council as a minority administration with SNP members filling the positions of council leader, depute council leader, and Lord Provost.[17]


Council 2012 Result: Largest party
(Parties in control)
Control before election
(Change in control
since May 2012, if different)
2017 Result: Largest party
(Parties in control)[3][18]
Aberdeen City Labour (Lab + Con + Ind) SNP (Con + Lab)[19] Details
Aberdeenshire SNP (Con + LD + Ind) SNP (SNP + Lab + Ind) Conservative (Con + LD + Ind)[20] Details
Angus SNP (SNP majority) SNP (SNP minority) SNP / Independents tie (Ind + Con + LD) Details
Argyll and Bute Independent (Ind + SNP) Independent (Ind + Con + LD) SNP (Ind + Con + LD) Details
Clackmannanshire SNP (SNP minority) SNP (SNP minority) Details
Dumfries and Galloway Labour (Con + SNP) Labour (Lab minority) Conservative (Lab + SNP)[21] Details
Dundee City SNP (SNP majority) SNP (SNP + Ind)[22] Details
East Ayrshire SNP (SNP + Con) SNP (SNP minority) Details
East Dunbartonshire SNP (Lab + LD + Con) Labour (Lab + Con minority) SNP (Con + LD) Details
East Lothian Labour (Lab + Con) Labour (Lab minority)[23] Details
East Renfrewshire Labour (Lab + SNP + Ind) Conservative (Lab + SNP) Details
City of Edinburgh Labour (Lab + SNP) SNP (Lab + SNP)[24] Details
Falkirk Labour (Lab + Con + Ind) SNP (SNP + Ind minority)[25] Details
Fife Labour (Lab minority) SNP (Lab + SNP)[15] Details
Glasgow City Labour (Lab majority) SNP (SNP minority) Details
Highland Independent (SNP + LD + Lab) Independent (Ind minority) Independent (Ind + LD + Lab)[26] Details
Inverclyde Labour (Lab w/ Ind + Con support) Labour (Lab minority) Details
Midlothian Council Labour (SNP + Green + Ind) Labour (Lab minority) Details
Moray SNP (Ind + Con) SNP (Con + Ind) Details
Na h-Eileanan Siar Independent Independent Details
North Ayrshire SNP (SNP minority) Labour (Lab minority) Labour / SNP tie (Lab minority) Details
North Lanarkshire Labour (Lab majority) SNP (Lab minority) Details
Orkney Independent Independent Details
Perth and Kinross SNP (SNP w/ Con support) Conservative (Con + LD + Ind)[27][28] Details
Renfrewshire Labour (Lab majority) SNP (SNP minority) Details
Scottish Borders Conservative (SNP + Ind + LD) Conservative (Con + Ind)[29] Details
Shetland Independent Independent Details
South Ayrshire Conservative (Con w/ Lab + Ind support) Conservative (SNP + Lab + Ind)[30] Details
South Lanarkshire Labour (Lab + LD + Con) Labour (Lab majority) SNP (SNP minority)[31] Details
Stirling SNP (Lab + Con) Conservative / SNP tie (Lab + SNP) Details
West Dunbartonshire Labour (Lab majority) SNP (SNP + Ind minority)[32] Details
West Lothian Labour (Lab w/ Con + Ind support) SNP (Lab w/ Con support) Details

Opinion polling

Polling organisation/client Sample size SNP Lab Con Lib Dem Green UKIP Others Lead
24 Feb–6 Mar 2017Ipsos MORI/STV1,02946%17%19%6%8%3%<1%27%
7–13 Feb 2017Panelbase/Wings Over Scotland1,02847%14%26%5%4%3%<1%21%
3 May 20122012 Election Results1,556,77332.3%31.4%13.3%6.6%2.3%0.3%13.8%0.9%


Summary of the 4 May 2017 Scottish council election results[33][34]

e  d 
Party First-preference votes Councils +/- 2012 seats 2017 seats Seat change
Seats won Notional Seats won Seat % vs Notional
Scottish National Party 610,454 32.3% 0.0 0 1 425 438 431 35.1% 7
Conservative 478,073 25.3% 12.0% 0 115 112 276 22.5% 164
Labour 380,957 20.2% 11.4% 0 3 394 395 262 21.4% 133
Independents 196,438 10.4% 1.4% 3 196 198 168 14.1% 30
Liberal Democrats 130,243 6.9% 0.3% 0 71 70 67 5.5% 3
Green 77,682 4.1% 1.8% 0 14 14 19 1.6% 5
Orkney Manifesto Group 894 0.0% 0 2 0.1% New
West Dunbartonshire Community 2,413 0.1% 0 1 0.1% New
The Rubbish Party 784 0.0% 0 1 0.1% New
UK Independence Party 2,920 0.2% 0.1% 0 0.0%
Independent Alliance North Lanarkshire 2,823 0.2% 0 0.0%
TUSC 1,403 0.1% 0 0.0%
A Better Britain – Unionist Party 1,196 0.1% 0 0.0%
Scottish Socialist 928 0.0% 0.3% 0 1 0 0.0% 1
Solidarity 883 0.0% 0 0.0%
Libertarian 776 0.0% 0 0.0%
RISE 186 0.0% 0 0.0%
Scottish Independent Network 145 0.0% 0 0.0%
Scottish Unionist 129 0.0% 0 0.0%
Social Democratic 112 0.0% 0 0.0%
Scottish Christian 104 0.0% 0 0.0%
Socialist Labour 76 0.0% 0 0.0%
National Front 39 0.0% 0 0.0%
No Overall Control 29 4
Total 1,889,658 100.0 ±0.0 32 1,223 1,227 1,227 100.00

The table has been arranged according to popular vote, not the number of seats won.

Boundary changes

Prior to the 2017 elections, changes were made to council ward boundaries in 25 council areas. This meant that comparisons with the actual results from 2012 were inaccurate due to a small increase in the total number of seats (from 1,223 to 1,227), different boundaries, and some wards having their number of councillors adjusted. These changes led BBC News, using work done by Professor David Denver of Lancaster University, to estimate what the results would have been in 2012 if the new boundaries and seat numbers had been in place for that election.[3][35]

See also


  1. http://www.lgbc-scotland.gov.uk/reviews/5th_electoral/01_resources/News_release_260516.pdf
  2. The "seats before" figure is a notional calculation by BBC News. These notional figures estimate what the results would have been in 2012, if the 2017 boundaries had been in place at that election, as boundary changes make direct comparison complicated.
  3. "Scotland Results". BBC News.
  4. "Report: Scottish local election results 2017". BBC News (Scotland).
  5. "Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Act 2015, Section 1". Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  6. "Representation of the People Act 1983, Section 2". Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  7. Electoral Commission. "I have two homes. Can I register at both addresses?". electoralcommission.org.uk. The Electoral Commission. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  8. "Timetable for Scottish council elections on 4 May 2017" (doc). The Electoral Commission. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  9. The deadline for the receipt and determination of anonymous electoral registration applications was one working day before the publication date of the notice of alteration to the Electoral Register (that is the sixth working day before polling day). cf "Guidance for Electoral Registration Officers (Part 4 – Maintaining the register throughout the year)" (PDF). Cabinet Office and The Electoral Commission. July 2016. p. 114 (para 7.128). Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  10. Press Association (6 May 2017). "Local elections: Sturgeon plays down Tory success in Scotland". The Guardian.
  11. Johnson, Simon (5 May 2017). "Ruth Davidson hails 'fightback' after Scottish Tory council surge and voter backlash against indy ref". The Daily Telegraph.
  12. McKiernan, Jennifer (6 May 2017). "Local Elections 2017: Party leaders react to results". The Press and Journal.
  13. "Aberdeenshire council chief hails authority for getting job done without any 'political spats' - Evening Express". Evening Express. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  14. "Economic growth and education priorities in Argyll | Press and Journal". Press and Journal. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  15. "Fife Council agree to SNP and Labour joint partnership". Dunfermline Press. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  16. "SNP replaces Labour as largest party in Glasgow". BBC News. 5 May 2017.
  17. "Councillor Eva Bolander chosen as Glasgow's Lord Provost". Glasgow City Council. 18 May 2017. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  18. "List of council administrations". BBC News.
  19. "Scottish Labour councillors on Aberdeen City Council suspended". Holyrood Website. October 3, 2019.
  20. "70 councillors elected to form new Aberdeenshire Council - Aberdeenshire Council". online.aberdeenshire.gov.uk.
  21. Reid, Fiona (23 May 2017). "Elaine is new leader". DnG24 Media.
  22. "SNP to form administration with Independent on Dundee City Council". BBC News. 12 May 2017. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  23. Sharp, Marie (10 May 2017). "Labour set to go it alone on East Lothian Council". Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  24. "City of Edinburgh Council to be run by coalition". 15 June 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  25. "SNP minority takes control of Falkirk Council". 17 May 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  26. "Independent, Lib Dem, Labour coalition to run Highland". BBC News. 10 May 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  27. Foote, Chris (15 May 2017). "Tory-led coalition takes over Perth and Kinross from SNP". STV News. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  28. Buchan, Jamie (16 May 2017). "EXCLUSIVE: Split at Perth and Kinross coalition, just hours after launch". The Courier. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  29. "Conservatives and independents to run Scottish Borders Council". BBC News South Scotland. BBC News. 9 May 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  30. "SNP, Labour and Independent councillors to run South Ayrshire Council". BBC News. 11 May 2017. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  31. Dickie, Douglas (10 May 2017). "SNP set to run minority administration at South Lanarkshire Council". Daily Record. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  32. Foulds, Jenny (18 May 2017). "New West Dunbartonshire Council administration revealed". Daily Record. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  33. "Full council election results published". May 8, 2017 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  34. "ElectionsScotland: SLGE2017 Summary Results Data".
  35. "How the BBC calculates local election results". 2017-05-09. Retrieved 10 May 2017.