2021 Scottish Parliament election


The 2021 Scottish Parliament election took place on 6 May 2021,[3] under the provisions of the Scotland Act 1998. All 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament were elected in the sixth election since the parliament was re-established in 1999. The election was held alongside the Senedd election, English local elections, London Assembly and mayoral election and the Hartlepool by-election.

2021 Scottish Parliament election

 2016 6 May 2021 Next 

All 129 seats to the Scottish Parliament
65 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
TurnoutConstituency – 63.5% 7.7pp
Regional – 63.5% 7.7pp
  First party Second party Third party
 
Leader Nicola Sturgeon Douglas Ross Anas Sarwar
Party SNP Conservative Labour
Leader since 14 November 2014 5 August 2020 27 February 2021
Leader's seat Glasgow Southside Highlands and Islands[lower-alpha 1] Glasgow
Last election 63 seats 31 seats 24 seats
Seats before 61 30 23
Seats won 64 31 22
Seat change 1 2
Constituency vote 1,291,204 592,526 584,392
 % and swing 47.7% 1.2% 21.9% 0.1% 21.6% 1.0%
Regional vote 1,094,374 637,131 485,819
 % and swing 40.3% 1.4% 23.5% 0.6% 17.9% 1.2%

  Fourth party Fifth party
 
Leader Lorna Slater /
Patrick Harvie
(co-leaders)
Willie Rennie
Party Green Liberal Democrats
Leader since 1 August 2019 /
22 November 2008
17 May 2011
Leader's seat Lothian /
Glasgow
North East Fife
Last election 6 seats 5 seats
Seats before 5 5
Seats won 8 4
Seat change 2 1
Constituency vote 34,990 187,816
 % and swing 1.3% 0.7% 6.9% 0.9%
Regional vote 220,324 137,152
 % and swing 8.1% 1.5% 5.1% 0.1%

The left side shows constituency winners of the election by their party colours. The right side shows regional winners of the election for the additional members by their party colours.

First Minister before election

Nicola Sturgeon
SNP

First Minister after election

Nicola Sturgeon
SNP

The election campaign started on 25 March 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland, although Parliament would not be officially dissolved until 5 May, the day before the election.[4] The main parties that ran for election are the Scottish National Party (SNP), led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Conservatives led by Douglas Ross, Scottish Labour led by Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Liberal Democrats led by Willie Rennie, and the Scottish Greens, led by their co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater. Of those five parties, two changed their leader since the 2016 election.

Newer parties set up since the last election included Reform UK Scotland, led by Michelle Ballantyne; the Alba Party, led by former First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond; and All for Unity, led by George Galloway. These parties only competed for seats on the regional lists and all failed to win any seats.

The election concluded with the SNP winning a fourth consecutive term in government, winning 64 seats and an increase of one. The SNP gained Edinburgh Central, Ayr, and East Lothian as well as winning the largest share of the popular vote and the largest number of constituency seats in any Scottish Parliament election (62).[5] The Greens won 8 seats, their best result to date at a Scottish Parliament election, while the Conservatives retained second place with 31 seats. Labour had its worst-ever result with 22 seats, and the lowest share of the vote in both Constituency & List votes for either Westminster or Holyrood since 1910. The Lib Dems won 4 seats, their worst showing at a Holyrood election to date.[6]

The SNP and the Greens, both of which support Scottish independence, won 72 of the 129 seats in the parliament. Unionist parties achieved a slight majority of votes in constituency contests, whilst pro-independence parties did the same in the regional list votes.[7] Voter turnout in the election reached 63.5%, the highest-ever at a Scottish Parliament election.

Background


Electoral events

2016 Scottish Parliament election

At the 2016 election, the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) lost its parliamentary majority but was able to continue governing under Nicola Sturgeon as a minority administration.[8] At the same election, the Conservatives overtook Labour into second place, whilst the Greens overtook the Liberal Democrats into fourth place.[8] No representatives of minor parties were elected to the Parliament.[8]

2017 local elections

The 2017 local elections saw the SNP hold its first-preference vote share compared to 2012 at 32%, finishing as the largest party in half of councils (sixteen).[9]

The Conservatives considerably increased their vote share to 25%, an increase of 12%, as they became the largest party outright in six council areas and joint largest in one other.[9] Labour fell 11% to 20% and became the largest party outright in only three councils, compared to fifteen in 2012.[9]

Independent candidates won 10% of the vote, down 1%, as the Lib Dems were marginally up, winning 7% of votes. The Greens increased their share by 2%, to earn 4% of votes.[9] For the first time since the electoral system was changed to the single transferable vote in 2007, no mainland council had a majority government.[9]

2017 United Kingdom general election

A month later, at the 2017 UK general election, the SNP lost twenty-one of its MPs, winning thirty-five seats on 37% of the vote (down thirteen percentage points). Most notably, former First Minister Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson, the party's Westminster leader, lost their seats.[10]

The Conservatives won their highest vote share in any election in Scotland since 1979, at 29%, and their highest number of MPs since 1983, winning thirteen.[10] They surpassed Labour on both counts, Labour earning 28% and seven seats – both an improvement over its 2015 showing. The Lib Dems won four seats, up three, but lost nearly 1% of their national vote share. None of the smaller parties managed more than 0.2% of the vote. UKIP and the Greens heavily reduced the number of candidates compared to 2015, with UKIP down from forty-one to ten and the Greens from thirty-one to three.[10]

2019 European Parliament election

The 2019 European election was dominated by the impending Brexit-deadline and was won in Scotland by the SNP. The party won three of the six seats, up one from 2014, in the European Parliament and increased its vote share from 29% to 38%; they were the largest party in all local authority areas, with the exception of Orkney and Shetland.[11]

The Brexit Party, led by former-UKIP leader Nigel Farage, finished second on 15% – 4% higher than UKIP achieved in 2014. The pro-remain Liberal Democrats won 14% of the vote and were the largest party in the two Northern Isle councils.[11]

Both the Conservatives and Labour performed badly across Britain, and finished fourth and fifth in Scotland respectively. The Tories fared relatively better in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK, achieving 12% (down 6% on 2014) in Scotland compared to 9% elsewhere. Labour lost 17% of the vote, finishing on 9%, and had its worst showing in Scotland since 1910; the Greens held level at 8%.[11]

The Brexit Party, Lib Dems and Conservatives each won a single seat, in addition to the SNP's three. Labour (two) and UKIP (one) lost the seats they won in 2014.[11]

2019 United Kingdom general election

The SNP increased its vote share to 45% at the 2019 general election, only 5% behind its 2015 performance, reclaiming thirteen of the seats they lost in 2017, constituting in a landslide victory.[12]

The Conservatives lost half the seats they gained in 2017, but retained a quarter of the vote – down 4%. The party won a majority of seats in the House of Commons across the UK, its biggest majority since 1987. Labour recorded its worst general election result in Scotland since 1910, being again reduced to a single Scottish seat, and achieved a 19% share of the vote. Across Britain, the party suffered its worst result since 1935, with many former safe Labour seats being gained by the Conservatives.[12][13]

The Liberal Democrats made no net losses, but Jo Swinson, the party's UK leader, lost her seat to the SNP. The party increased its share by 3%, to record just under one in ten votes.[14] The Greens managed 1% of the vote, as they stood in twenty-two seats.[12]

Leadership changes

Three parties underwent leadership changes during the parliamentary term. In 2017, Kezia Dugdale resigned as Leader of Scottish Labour and was replaced by Richard Leonard.[15] On 14 January 2021, less than four months before the election was held, Leonard resigned.[16] The 2021 Scottish Labour leadership election was held in February 2021, and was won by Anas Sarwar.[17]

On 1 August 2019, Lorna Slater became co-leader of the Scottish Greens alongside Patrick Harvie.[18]

Later in August 2019, Ruth Davidson resigned as leader of the Scottish Conservatives and was succeeded by Jackson Carlaw.[19] Carlaw, however, himself resigned from the leadership in July 2020,[20] and Douglas Ross won the subsequent leadership election without opposition.[21]

Expansion of the electorate

This is the first election after the passage of the Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Act, which extended the franchise to those serving prison sentences of 12 months or less.[22][23] In 2005, the United Kingdom was found in breach of Protocol 1, Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights in regards of prisoner voting rights in the European Court of Human Rights as a result of Hirst v United Kingdom (No 2); the Act brings Scotland in line with the court ruling.[24]

This act also allows all foreign nationals resident in Scotland to vote and all those with indefinite leave to remain or equivalent status, including pre–settled status in the United Kingdom, to stand as candidates.[25][22][26] A BBC News report in April 2021 said that there were around 55,000 foreign nationals who had been given the right to vote as a result of these changes, including 20,000 refugees.[26]

Registering to vote

In order to vote by post, a person must have registered for a postal vote by 6 April 2021.[27] Everyone seeking to vote in person on the day of the election must have registered to vote before the deadline at 11:59pm on 19 April 2021.[28]

Date


Under the Scotland Act 1998, an ordinary general election to the Scottish Parliament would normally have been held on the first Thursday in May four years after the 2016 election, i.e. in May 2020.[29] This would have clashed with the proposed date of a UK general election, although this became a moot point when a snap UK general election was held in June 2017 (a further UK general election was held in December 2019).[30] In November 2015, the Scottish Government published a Scottish Elections (Dates) Bill, which proposed to extend the term of the Parliament to five years.[30] That Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 25 February 2016 and received Royal Assent on 30 March 2016, setting the new date for the election as 6 May 2021.[3]

The Scottish Elections (Dates) Act did not affect the legal possibilities for the Parliament to be dissolved earlier, those being;

  • That the date of the poll may be varied by up to one month either way by the monarch, on the proposal of the Presiding Officer.[29]
  • If Parliament itself resolves that it should be dissolved, with at least two-thirds of the Members (i.e. 86 Members) voting in favour, the Presiding Officer proposes a date for an extraordinary general election and the Parliament is dissolved by the monarch by royal proclamation.[31]
  • If Parliament fails to nominate one of its members to be First Minister within 28 days, irrespective of whether at the beginning or in the middle of a parliamentary term.[31] Therefore, if the First Minister resigned, Parliament would then have 28 days to elect a successor and if no new First Minister was elected then the Presiding Officer would ask for Parliament to be dissolved. This process could also be triggered if the First Minister lost a vote of confidence by a simple majority, as they must then resign.

Nevertheless, no extraordinary general elections have been held to date. Any extraordinary general election would be in addition to the ordinary general elections, unless held less than six months before the due date of an ordinary general election, in which case it would supplant it.[31] This would not affect the year in which the subsequent ordinary general election would be held.[31]

On 16 November 2020, the Scottish General Election (Coronavirus) Bill was introduced.[32] This draft legislation stated that while the next election was intended to be held on 6 May 2021, the Presiding Officer would gain the power to postpone the election by up to six months if the spread of COVID-19 made that date impractical.[32] The bill also proposed to change the date of dissolution to the day before the election, meaning that the Parliament could be recalled during the election period.[32] The bill was enacted and received Royal Assent on 29 January 2021.[33] Parliament was in fact recalled on 12 April, to allow MSPs to mark the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.[34]

Retiring MSPs


MSP Constituency/Region First elected Party Date announced
Neil Findlay Lothian 2011 Labour 28 May 2019[35][36]
Mary Fee West Scotland 2011 Labour 7 August 2019[35][37][38]
John Finnie Highlands and Islands 2011 Green 27 August 2019[35][39]
Elaine Smith Central Scotland 1999 Labour 3 September 2019[35][40]
Ruth Davidson Edinburgh Central 2011 Conservative 6 October 2019[35][41]
Bruce Crawford Stirling 1999 SNP 18 February 2020[35][42]
Richard Lyle Uddingston and Bellshill 2011 SNP 20 February 2020[35][43]
Gail Ross Caithness, Sutherland and Ross 2016 SNP 27 February 2020[35][44]
Michael Russell Argyll and Bute 1999 SNP 1 March 2020[35][45]
Stewart Stevenson Banffshire and Buchan Coast 2001 SNP 1 March 2020[35][45]
Mark McDonald Aberdeen Donside 2011 Independent[lower-alpha 2] 5 March 2020[35][46]
Aileen Campbell Clydesdale 2007 SNP 8 March 2020[35][47]
Margaret Mitchell Central Scotland 2003 Conservative 18 April 2020[35][48]
David Stewart Highlands and Islands 2007 Labour 9 June 2020[35][49]
Angus MacDonald Falkirk East 2011 SNP 11 June 2020[35][50]
Iain Gray East Lothian 1999 Labour 18 June 2020[35][51]
Adam Tomkins Glasgow 2016 Conservative 17 July 2020[35][52]
Gil Paterson Clydebank and Milngavie 1999 SNP 31 July 2020[35][53]
Linda Fabiani East Kilbride 1999 SNP 11 August 2020[35][54]
Derek Mackay Renfrewshire North and West 2011 Independent[lower-alpha 3] 14 August 2020[35][55]
Roseanna Cunningham Perthshire South and Kinross-shire 1999 SNP 22 August 2020[35][56]
Alex Neil Airdrie and Shotts 1999 SNP 23 August 2020[35][57]
Jeane Freeman Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley 2016 SNP 24 August 2020[35][58]
Sandra White Glasgow Kelvin 1999 SNP 27 August 2020[35][59]
Maureen Watt Aberdeen South and North Kincardine 2006[lower-alpha 4] SNP 7 September 2020[35][60]
Peter Chapman North East Scotland 2016 Conservative September 2020[35]
Mike Rumbles North East Scotland 1999 Liberal Democrats September 2020[35]
Ken Macintosh West Scotland 1999 Presiding Officer[lower-alpha 5] 22 September 2020[35][61]
Jenny Marra North East Scotland 2011 Labour 28 November 2020[35][62]
Lewis Macdonald North East Scotland 1999 Labour 30 November 2020[35][63]
Johann Lamont Glasgow 1999 Labour 4 March 2021[35][64]
Alison Harris Central Scotland 2016 Conservative 7 March 2021[65]
Bill Bowman North East Scotland 2016 Conservative 9 March 2021[66]
Tom Mason North East Scotland 2017 Conservative 9 March 2021[66]

James Dornan announced in February 2020 his intention to retire at the next Holyrood election,[67] but reversed this decision some months later.[68]

Parties


The SNP, Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats fielded candidates in all 73 constituencies and all eight of the regional ballots.[69] Five other parties contested both all eight regions and at least one constituency: the Scottish Greens (12 constituencies) the Scottish Libertarian Party (9), the Scottish Family Party (7), UKIP (5) and the Freedom Alliance (4). Four parties – Abolish the Scottish Parliament Party, Alba Party, All for Unity, and Reform UK – stood in all eight electoral regions, but did not contest any constituencies.

Six other parties contested some of the regions and at least one constituency: TUSC (3 regions and 3 constituencies), Restore Scotland (2 regions, 4 constituencies), Scotia Future (2 of each), the Communist Party of Britain (2 regions and 1 constituency), the Reclaim Party (1 of each) and the Vanguard Party (also 1 of each). Five other parties – Independent Green Voice (5 regions), Renew (5), the Social Democratic Party (2), Women's Equality (2) and Animal Welfare (1) – contested some of the regions, but not any constituencies.

The Scottish Socialist Party, which participated in the last election as part of the electoral alliance RISE – Scotland's Left Alliance, opted not to participate in this election, for the first time since its inception.

List of parties contesting all regional ballots

Name Ideology Leader(s) 2016 Scottish Parliament election result Seats at dissolution
Votes (%) Seats
Constituency Regional
Scottish National Party Social democracy
Scottish independence
Nicola Sturgeon
MSP for Glasgow Southside
46.5 41.7
63 / 129
61 / 129
Scottish Conservatives Conservatism
Unionism
Douglas Ross
Not an MSP
22.0 22.9
31 / 129
30 / 129
Scottish Labour Social democracy
Unionism
Anas Sarwar
MSP for Glasgow region
22.6 19.1
24 / 129
23 / 129
Scottish Greens Green politics
Scottish independence
Patrick Harvie (co-leader)
MSP for Glasgow region
0.6 6.6
6 / 129
5 / 129
Lorna Slater (co-leader)
Not an MSP
Scottish Liberal Democrats Liberalism
Unionism
Willie Rennie
MSP for North East Fife
7.8 5.2
4 / 129
5 / 129
Reform UK Scotland Populism
Euroscepticism
Michelle Ballantyne
MSP for South Scotland region
0 / 129
1 / 129
UKIP Scotland Right-wing populism
Unionism Anti-Devolution
Donald Mackay[70]
Not an MSP
2.0
0 / 129
0 / 129
Scottish Libertarian Party Libertarianism
Scottish independence
Tam Laird
Not an MSP
0.0 0.1
0 / 129
0 / 129
Scottish Family Party Anti-abortion
Family values
Richard Lucas
Not an MSP
0 / 129
Did not exist
Alba Party Scottish nationalism
Scottish independence
Alex Salmond
Not an MSP
0 / 129
Did not exist
All for Unity Anti-nationalism
Unionism
George Galloway
Not an MSP
0 / 129
Did not exist
Abolish the Scottish Parliament Anti-devolution
Unionism
John Mortimer
Not an MSP
0 / 129
Did not exist

Election system, seats and regions


An Electoral Commission voter guide booklet sent to Scottish households ahead of the election.

The total number of Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) elected to the Parliament is 129.

The Scottish Parliament uses an additional member system (AMS), designed to produce approximate proportional representation for each region. There are 8 regions, each sub-divided into smaller constituencies. There is a total of 73 constituencies. Each constituency elects one MSP by the plurality (first past the post) system of election. Each region elects 7 additional MSPs using an additional member system. A modified D'Hondt method, using the constituency results, is used to elect these additional MSPs.[71][72]

The boundaries of the 73 constituencies last changed as of the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, as did the configuration of the electoral regions used to elect "list" members of the Scottish Parliament.[73] These revisions were the outcome of the First Periodical Review of the Scottish Parliament's constituencies and regions conducted by the Boundary Commission for Scotland; the Review was announced on 3 July 2007 and the Commission published its final report on 26 May 2010.

The Scottish Parliament constituencies have not been coterminous with Scottish Westminster constituencies since the 2005 general election, when the 72 former UK Parliament constituencies were replaced with a new set of 59, generally larger, constituencies (see Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004). The size difference between Westminster and Holyrood boundaries was due to diverge further upon the implementation of the Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies, which has not been voted upon by Parliament. The 2023 Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies for a UK total of 650 MPs will commence in 2021.

Campaign


The election campaign started on 25 March 2021.[4] The Scottish Conservatives launched their campaign the same day, with a focus on promoting Scotland's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.[74]

On 26 March 2021, the Alba Party was publicly launched by former First Minister of Scotland and SNP leader, Alex Salmond.[75][76][77][78] The party announced plans to stand list-only candidates. The party later gained two sitting MPs who defected from the SNP.[79] The Action for Independence party, which had intended to pursue a similar list-only strategy, announced they would stand down their candidates in favour of Alba.[80] Sturgeon said she would refuse to have any dealings with Salmond unless he apologises to the women who had accused him of harassment.[81]

BBC Scotland announced that it would broadcast two debates between the main parties' leaders; the first was aired on 30 March 2021 and was moderated by the corporation's Scotland editor Sarah Smith.[82] The debate included key questions from the audience on the COVID-19 recovery, climate change, and a second referendum on Scottish independence. The second BBC debate was held on 4 May 2021 and was moderated by BBC Scotland's political editor Glenn Campbell.[83]

Commercial broadcaster STV held their leaders' debate on 13 April, moderated by their political editor Colin Mackay.[84][85][86] NUS Scotland held a debate on specifically on student issues which was moderated by NUS Scotland president, Matt Crilly on 20 April which featured the three main party leaders.[87]

On 1 April, Planet Radio announced their Clyde 2 station would be hosting a Leaders Phone-In with the main parties' leaders every Sunday before the election. Douglas Ross was the first to be interviewed on 4 April,[88] with Willie Rennie following on 18 April. Whilst Nicola Sturgeon was set to be interviewed on 11 April, campaigning was delayed following the death of Prince Philip and her phone-in was instead held on 22 April. Patrick Harvie followed on 25 April; and Anas Sarwar had the final phone-in on 2 May.[89]

Following Prince Philip's death on 9 April, the SNP, Conservatives, Labour, Greens and Liberal Democrats said they would suspend election campaigning until further notice.[90][91][92] After discussion between the parties, they agreed to resume campaigning after a special parliamentary session on 12 April to make tributes and to pause activities again on the day of the funeral (17 April).[34][93]

Election debates

2021 Scottish Parliament election debates
Date Organisers Moderator(s)  P  Present[lower-alpha 6]    S  Surrogate[lower-alpha 7]    NI  Not invited   A  Absent invitee  INV Invited 
SNP Conservatives Labour Greens Lib Dems Audience Ref.
30 March BBC Scotland
Sarah Smith
P
Sturgeon
P
Ross
P
Sarwar
P
Slater
P
Rennie
Virtual [94]
13 April STV Colin Mackay P
Sturgeon
P
Ross
P
Sarwar
P
Harvie
P
Rennie
[95]
20 April NUS Scotland Matt Crilly P
Sturgeon
P
Ross
P
Sarwar
S
Greer[lower-alpha 8]
S
Ford[lower-alpha 9]
Virtual [87]
22 April BBC (Question Time Special) Fiona Bruce S
Brown[lower-alpha 10]
P
Ross
P
Sarwar
P
Slater
P
Rennie
Virtual [96]
27 April Channel 4 News Krishnan Guru-Murthy P
Sturgeon
P
Ross
P
Sarwar
P
Harvie
P
Rennie
[97]
4 May BBC Scotland Glenn Campbell P
Sturgeon
P
Ross
P
Sarwar
P
Harvie
P
Rennie
[98]

Opinion polling


Graph of opinion poll results prior to the 2021 Scottish Parliament election. Trendlines are 30-day moving averages.

Key

  SNP – Scottish National Party
  Conservative – Scottish Conservatives
  Labour – Scottish Labour
  Lib Dem – Scottish Liberal Democrats
  Green – Scottish Greens
  UKIP – UK Independence Party
  Reform – Reform UK
  SSP – Scottish Socialist Party
  Alba – Alba Party
  AFU – All for Unity

Target seats


Below are listed all the constituencies which required a swing of less than 5% from the 2016 result to change hands. The most marginal opportunity for the Greens was in Glasgow Kelvin, which they needed a 7.1% swing to gain. The Liberal Democrats' best bet was Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, which required a 6.1% swing. The SNP ended up holding both of these constituencies.

SNP targets

Rank Constituency Winning party
in 2016
Swing to
gain %
SNP's place
in 2016
Result
1 Dumbarton Labour 0.17 2nd Labour hold
2 Edinburgh Central Conservative 0.90 2nd SNP gain
3 Ayr Conservative 1.00 2nd SNP gain
4 Aberdeenshire West Conservative 1.28 2nd Conservative hold
5 East Lothian Labour 1.45 2nd SNP gain
6 Edinburgh Southern Labour 1.47 2nd Labour hold
7 Dumfriesshire Conservative 1.70 2nd Conservative hold
8 Eastwood Conservative 2.22 2nd Conservative hold
9 Galloway and West Dumfries Conservative 2.27 2nd Conservative hold
10 Edinburgh Western Liberal Democrats 3.73 2nd Lib Dems hold

Conservative targets

Rank Constituency Winning party
in 2016
Swing to
gain %
Cons' place
in 2016
Result
1 Perthshire South and Kinross-shire SNP 1.97 2nd SNP hold
2 Edinburgh Pentlands SNP 3.68 2nd SNP hold
3 Angus North and Mearns SNP 4.21 2nd SNP hold
4 Aberdeen South and North Kincardine SNP 4.26 2nd SNP hold
5 Moray SNP 4.30 2nd SNP hold
6 Edinburgh Southern Labour 4.74 3rd Labour hold
7 Perthshire North SNP 4.90 2nd SNP hold

Labour targets

Rank Constituency Winning party
in 2016
Swing to
gain %
Labour's place
in 2016
Result
1 Eastwood Conservative 2.56 3rd Conservative hold
2 Edinburgh Central Conservative 4.19 3rd SNP gain

Results


Vote share of winning party by constituency

Overall

PartyConstituencyRegionalTotal
seats
+/–
Votes%SeatsVotes%Seats
Scottish National Party1,291,20447.70621,094,37440.34264+1
Conservative592,52621.895637,13123.4926310
Labour584,39221.592485,81917.912022–2
Greens34,9901.290220,3248.1288+2
Liberal Democrats187,8166.944137,1515.0604–1
Alba44,9131.6600New
All for Unity23,2990.8600New
Scottish Family Party2,7340.10016,0850.5900New
Independent Green Voice9,7560.3600New
Abolish the Scottish Parliament7,2620.2700New
Freedom Alliance1,1540.0406,2710.2300New
Reform UK5,7930.2100New
Libertarian1,9130.0704,9870.18000
UKIP6990.0303,8980.14000
Animal Welfare2,3920.09000
Women's Equality1,8960.07000
TUSC9590.0401,4040.05000
Restore Scotland1,1920.0401,1490.0400New
Communist Party of Britain1940.0101,1420.04000
Renew4930.0200New
Scotia Future1,0320.0404510.0200New
Social Democratic4050.0100New
Reclaim1140.0001740.0100New
Vanguard670.000920.0000New
Liberal1020.0000New
Independents5,6730.2106,1220.23000
Total2,706,761100.00732,712,783100.00561290
Valid votes2,706,76199.632,712,78399.81
Invalid/blank votes10,0240.375,2820.19
Total votes2,716,785100.002,718,065100.00
Registered voters/turnout4,280,78563.464,280,78563.49
Source: Electoral Management Board for Scotland

Votes summary

64 8 31 22 4
SNP Green Conservative Labour LD
Popular Vote (Constituency)
SNP
47.70%
Conservative
21.89%
Labour
21.59%
Liberal Democrats
6.94%
Green
1.29%
Other
0.59%
Popular Vote (Regional)
SNP
40.34%
Conservative
23.49%
Labour
17.91%
Green
8.12%
Liberal Democrats
5.06%
Alba
1.66%
Other
3.42%
Parliament seats
SNP
49.61%
Conservative
24.00%
Labour
17.05%
Green
6.20%
Liberal Democrats
3.10%

Central Scotland

2021 Scottish Parliament election: Central Scotland constituencies
Constituency Elected member Result
Airdrie and Shotts Neil Gray SNP hold
Coatbridge and Chryston Fulton MacGregor SNP hold
Cumbernauld and Kilsyth Jamie Hepburn SNP hold
East Kilbride Collette Stevenson SNP hold
Falkirk East Michelle Thomson SNP hold
Falkirk West Michael Matheson SNP hold
Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse Christina McKelvie SNP hold
Motherwell and Wishaw Clare Adamson SNP hold
Uddingston and Bellshill Stephanie Callaghan SNP hold
2021 Scottish Parliament election: Central Scotland regional list
Party Elected candidates Seats +/− Votes % +/−%
SNP 0 148,399 45.3 2.4
Labour Richard Leonard
Monica Lennon
Mark Griffin
3 1 77,623 23.7 1.1
Conservative Stephen Kerr
Graham Simpson
Meghan Gallacher
3 59,896 18.3 2.2
Green Gillian Mackay 1 1 19,512 6 1.3

Glasgow

2021 Scottish Parliament election: Glasgow constituencies
Constituency Elected member Result
Glasgow Anniesland Bill Kidd SNP hold
Glasgow Cathcart James Dornan SNP hold
Glasgow Kelvin Kaukab Stewart SNP hold
Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn Bob Doris SNP hold
Glasgow Pollok Humza Yousaf SNP hold
Glasgow Provan Ivan McKee SNP hold
Glasgow Shettleston John Mason SNP hold
Glasgow Southside Nicola Sturgeon SNP hold
Rutherglen Clare Haughey SNP hold
2021 Scottish Parliament election: Glasgow regional list
Party Elected candidates Seats +/− Votes % +/−%
SNP 0 133,917 43.9 0.9
Labour Pauline McNeill
Anas Sarwar
Paul Sweeney
Pam Duncan-Glancy
4 74,088 24.3 0.5
Conservative Annie Wells
Sandesh Gulhane
2 37,027 12.1 0.2
Green Patrick Harvie 1 36,114 11.8 2.4

Highlands and Islands

Scottish Parliament election, 2021: Highlands and Islands constituencies
Constituency Elected member Result
Argyll and Bute Jenni Minto SNP hold
Caithness, Sutherland and Ross Maree Todd SNP hold
Inverness and Nairn Fergus Ewing SNP hold
Moray Richard Lochhead SNP hold
Na h-Eileanan an Iar Alasdair Allan SNP hold
Orkney Liam McArthur Liberal Democrat hold
Shetland Beatrice Wishart Liberal Democrat hold
Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch Kate Forbes SNP hold
2021 Scottish Parliament election: Highlands and Islands regional list
Party Elected candidates Seats +/− Votes % +/−%
SNP Emma Roddick 1 96,433 40.4 0.7
Conservative Douglas Ross
Donald Cameron
Edward Mountain
Jamie Halcro Johnston
4 1 60,779 25.4 3.6
Labour Rhoda Grant 1 1 22,713 9.5 1.7
Green Ariane Burgess 1 17,729 7.4 0.2

Lothian

Scottish Parliament election, 2021: Lothian constituencies
Constituency Elected member Result
Almond Valley Angela Constance SNP hold
Edinburgh Central Angus Robertson SNP gain from Conservative
Edinburgh Eastern Ash Denham SNP hold
Edinburgh Northern and Leith Ben Macpherson SNP hold
Edinburgh Pentlands Gordon MacDonald SNP hold
Edinburgh Southern Daniel Johnson Labour hold
Edinburgh Western Alex Cole-Hamilton Liberal Democrat hold
Linlithgow Fiona Hyslop SNP hold
Midlothian North and Musselburgh Colin Beattie SNP hold
2021 Scottish Parliament election: Lothian regional list
Party Elected candidates Seats +/− Votes % +/−%
SNP 0 141,478 35.9 0.3
Conservative Miles Briggs
Sue Webber
Jeremy Balfour
3 78,595 19.9 3
Labour Sarah Boyack
Foysol Choudhury
2 76,689 19.4 1.4
Green Alison Johnstone
Lorna Slater
2 49,984 12.7 2.1
Liberal Democrats 0 28,433 7.2 1.6

Mid Scotland and Fife

Scottish Parliament election, 2021: Mid Scotland and Fife constituencies
Constituency Elected member Result
Clackmannanshire and Dunblane Keith Brown SNP hold
Cowdenbeath Annabelle Ewing SNP hold
Dunfermline Shirley-Anne Somerville SNP hold
Kirkcaldy David Torrance SNP hold
Mid Fife and Glenrothes Jenny Gilruth SNP hold
North East Fife Willie Rennie Liberal Democrat hold
Perthshire North John Swinney SNP hold
Perthshire South and Kinross-shire Jim Fairlie SNP hold
Stirling Evelyn Tweed SNP hold
2021 Scottish Parliament election: Mid Scotland and Fife regional list
Party Elected candidates Seats +/− Votes % +/−%
SNP 0 136,825 39.8 1.5
Conservative Murdo Fraser
Liz Smith
Dean Lockhart
Alexander Stewart
4 85,909 25 0.2
Labour Claire Baker
Alex Rowley
2 52,626 15.3 2.3
Green Mark Ruskell 1 28,654 8.3 2.2

North East Scotland

Scottish Parliament election, 2021: North East Scotland constituencies
Constituency Elected member Result
Aberdeen Central Kevin Stewart SNP hold
Aberdeen Donside Jackie Dunbar SNP hold
Aberdeen South and North Kincardine Audrey Nicoll SNP hold
Aberdeenshire East Gillian Martin SNP hold
Aberdeenshire West Alexander Burnett Conservative hold
Angus North & Mearns Mairi Gougeon SNP hold
Angus South Graeme Dey SNP hold
Banffshire & Buchan Coast Karen Adam SNP hold
Dundee City East Shona Robison SNP hold
Dundee City West Joe FitzPatrick SNP hold
2021 Scottish Parliament election: North East Scotland regional list
Party Elected candidates Seats +/− Votes % +/−%
SNP 0 147,910 40.9 3.8
Conservative Liam Kerr
Douglas Lumsden
Maurice Golden
Tess White
4 110,555 30.6 2.6
Labour Michael Marra
Mercedes Villalba
2 41,062 11.4 1.2
Green Maggie Chapman 1 1 22,735 6.3 1.4
Liberal Democrats 0 1 18,051 5 1

South Scotland

Scottish Parliament election, 2021: South Scotland constituencies
Constituency Elected member Result
Ayr Siobhian Brown SNP gain from Conservative
Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley Elena Whitham SNP hold
Clydesdale Màiri McAllan SNP hold
Dumfriesshire Oliver Mundell Conservative hold
East Lothian Paul McLennan SNP gain from Labour
Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire Rachael Hamilton Conservative hold
Galloway and West Dumfries Finlay Carson Conservative hold
Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley Willie Coffey SNP hold
Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale Christine Grahame SNP hold
2021 Scottish Parliament election: South Scotland regional list
Party Elected candidates Seats +/− Votes % +/−%
SNP Emma Harper 1 2 136,741 37.6 0.7
Conservative Craig Hoy
Brian Whittle
Sharon Dowey
3 1 121,730 33.5 1.4
Labour Colin Smyth
Carol Mochan
Martin Whitfield
3 1 57,236 15.7 2.1

West Scotland

Scottish Parliament election, 2021: West Scotland constituencies
Constituency Elected member Result
Clydebank and Milngavie Marie McNair SNP hold
Cunninghame North Kenneth Gibson SNP hold
Cunninghame South Ruth Maguire SNP hold
Dumbarton Jackie Baillie Labour hold
Eastwood Jackson Carlaw Conservative hold
Greenock and Inverclyde Stuart McMillan SNP hold
Paisley George Adam SNP hold
Renfrewshire North and West Natalie Don SNP hold
Renfrewshire South Tom Arthur SNP hold
Strathkelvin and Bearsden Rona Mackay SNP hold
2021 Scottish Parliament election: West Scotland regional list
Party Elected candidates Seats +/− Votes % +/−%
SNP 0 152,671 40.4 1.8
Labour Neil Bibby
Katy Clark
Paul O'Kane
3 83,782 22.2 0.3
Conservative Russell Findlay
Jamie Greene
Pam Gosal
3 82,640 21.9 0.3
Green Ross Greer 1 26,632 7.1 1.8

Constituency seat changes compared to 2016

Constituency Gain Loss
Ayr SNP Conservative
East Lothian SNP Labour
Edinburgh Central SNP Conservative

MSPs that lost their seats

Aftermath


Election of the First Minister
Ballot → 18 May 2021
Required majority → 50 out of 99 valid votes
64 / 129
Y
31 / 129
N
4 / 129
N
Abstentions
28 / 129
Not voting
2 / 129
Sources[101]

See also


Other elections in the UK which were held on the same day:

Footnotes


  1. Elected on the Highlands and Islands regional list while concurrently sitting as a Westminster MP for Moray.[1] Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader at Holyrood before the leader, stood down at the election to take a seat in the House of Lords.[2]
  2. Originally elected as SNP
  3. Originally elected as SNP
  4. Co-opted to replace Richard Lochhead, who became a constituency MSP in the 2006 Moray by-election
  5. Originally elected as Labour
  6. Denotes a main invitee attending the event.
  7. Denotes a main invitee not attending the event, sending a surrogate in their place.
  8. Ross Greer, Scottish Green spokesperson on International Development and External Affairs, Education and Skills, and Culture and Media.
  9. Carole Ford, Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Children and Young People.
  10. Keith Brown, SNP Depute Leader.

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