Scottish election 2021 results: Scottish Parliament explained - as Nicola Sturgeon declares ‘extraordinary’ win

The SNP lost out on an overall majority by one seat, despite winning one additional seat that in 2016
129 MSPs make up the Scottish Parliament, the SNP will take up 64 of these seats following the 2021 election (Picture: Scottish Parliament)129 MSPs make up the Scottish Parliament, the SNP will take up 64 of these seats following the 2021 election (Picture: Scottish Parliament)
129 MSPs make up the Scottish Parliament, the SNP will take up 64 of these seats following the 2021 election (Picture: Scottish Parliament)

The SNP will form the next Scottish Government, following a substantial win in the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections.

On 6 May, the Scottish electorate turned out in record numbers to cast their ballot and elect the new wave of 129 MSPs.

While First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described her party’s victory in the election as a “historic and extraordinary” triumph, the SNP fell short of an overall majority by just one seat.

So, how did Scotland vote and what has Scottish party leaders said of the result? This is everything we know so far.

How did Scotland vote?

An average of 63 percent of the Scottish electorate turned out to vote in the Holyrood elections, around eight percent more than in 2016.

The SNP won 64 seats in the Scottish Parliament election, one more than in 2016 but one less than required to form a majority government.

The party's fourth consecutive victory has been hailed as a triumphant by the First Minister, as the SNP took Ayr from the Conservatives, as well as East Lothian from the Scottish Labour party.

However, the SNP failed to clinch victories in target seats such as Dumbarton, Aberdeenshire West and Dumfries, where Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie, Conservatives Alexander Burnett and Finlay Carson held onto their seats.

With all regional and constituency seats now allocated, the Conservatives will return as the official opposition with 31 seats, Labour won 22, the Liberal Democrats secured four and the Scottish Green increased their share with eight.

George Galloway’s ‘All for Unity’ and former First Minister Alex Salmond’s Alba party both failed to acquire any seats.

Due to the proportionate representation style of electing MSPs, the landscape of the parliament has not dramatically changed since the 2016 elections.

While the SNP did pick up two target seats, they also lost two regional seats as a result of their victory in the constituent vote. This effectively cancelled their constituency triumphs, while the Conservative’s sought to gain from the list allocations.

The SNP won 1.2 percent of the vote share more than last time, winning over 47.7 percent of the votes this time around.

The Scottish Conservatives returns with the same as in 2016 with 31 seats, winning 21.9 percent of the vote share (-0.1).

Labour managed 21.6 percent of votes, down one percent. The Lib Dems also declined their share, down 0.9 to 6.9 percent.

The Scottish Greens were the only other party to increase their vote share, by 0.7, to make up 1.3 percent.

What does this mean for the new Scottish Government?

Nicola Sturgeon has commented that she now has a mandate for a second independence referendum, which she hopes will take place after the country recovers from Covid, but it is not as simple as that.

Had her party won an overall majority, there would be no real need to pay any attention to other parties’ manifestos.

However, she will now need to win the support from at least one MSP from the opposition parties in order to pass legislation.

It is most likely that the independence supporting Scottish Greens will support her pursuit for another referendum, but at the cost of Sturgeon agreeing to back some of their manifesto pledges.

This could include forcing the SNP’s arm to phase out the oil and gas industry quicker than the SNP would like.

The Scottish Greens’ new co-leader Lorna Slater described the industry as incompatible with working towards the targets of the Paris climate agreement, on BBC Scotland.

What has Nicola Sturgeon said since the election results?

Speaking about the election result, Nicola Sturgeon said she would prioritise Covid recovery, before embarking on securing a second independence referendum.

On 8 May, as her party’s victory was secured, she said the “majority of people in Scotland back a progressive, inclusive, outward looking vision for the future of our nation”.

She added that Scotland’s political standpoint was not reflected south of the border, saying: “Yet we are facing many more years of right-wing Brexit-obsessed Tory governments that we don’t vote for, taking us in a direction we haven’t chosen.”

In response to Boris Johnson telling the Telegraph that he would not support a second referendum as it was “ripping the country apart”, “irresponsible and reckless,” Sturgeon said he had no right to refuse to accept the democratic wishes of the Scottish people.

However, she did tell the BBC’s Andrew Marr that she would be “absolutely” willing to work with the UK government on a Covid recovery plan, which she said is her top priority for the time being.

Has Anas Sarwar and Douglas Ross commented on the result?

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has been re-elected to the Scottish Parliament on the North East regional list.

He was previously elected as an MSP in 2016, before resigning his seat to become a Conservative MP at Westminster.

In a speech on 8 May, following his appointment as an MSP, he said: "This region is so important to me, I've lived within the Highlands and Islands in Moray, my entire life.

"I've had the great pleasure and privilege to represent this area before and I am delighted to be returned again to represent this diverse and wonderful part of Scotland."

He has also said he believes Scottish people want the parliament and regions of the UK to “work together - to show the same unity that people across this country have shown in coming through the worst of this pandemic so far and looking towards our recovery as a country."

Meanwhile, Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said Scottish Labour are “on a journey” to rebuild, but that his party are “back on the pitch.”

"I think you need to remember where we were 10 weeks ago," he told the BBC Sunday show, referring to the opinion polls before he became Scottish Labour leader.

He has vowed to push for Covid recovery first and is willing to work with any other party to fulfil their election promises on the recovery.

"Yes we will have big disagreements," he said, "But that will not stop me working with them."