— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) June 1, 2015
Understanding the Scottish system
Given what we’ve seen it is very hard to envisage anything other than a big SNP victory. Unlike last month’s general elections north of the border where the SNP were able to pick up 56 of the 59 seats with 50% of the vote the system for Holyrood is different and should see many more parties being represented.
This is how the parliament itself describes it on its website:
How the Additional Member System (AMS) works
There are 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs)
There are two ways an MSP can be elected.
Each elector (voter) has two votes.
Scotland is divided into 73 constituencies and each constituency elects one MSP. These are known as constituency MSPs and are elected by ‘first past the post’ in exactly the same way as MPs are elected to Westminster. This is the elector’s ‘first vote’.
The ‘second vote’ is used to elect 56 additional members. Scotland is divided into 8 parliamentary Regions and each region elects 7 regional MSPs. In the second vote the voter votes for a party rather than a candidate. The parties are then allocated a number of additional members to make the overall result more proportional. The regional MSPs are selected from lists compiled by the parties. These MSPs are also sometimes referred to as List MSPs.
Features of the Additional Member System
- Voters get two votes – to elect 1 constituency MSP and 7 regional/ list MSPs
- Each person living in Scotland has a total of 8 MSPs to represent them.
- The overall result is fairly proportional.
- It is unlikely that one party will get an overall majority, although the SNP did that in 2011, and therefore coalitions are likely. (For example, see the 1999 election results when Labour and the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition government – the Scottish Executive)
- New parties and smaller parties are more likely to get representation than by using ‘first past the post’. (e.g Green Party, Scottish Socialist Party)
I like the Scottish approach because it keeps the constituency link while providing a degree of proportionality.