Elections to the Scottish Parliament will take place on 6 May 2021.
There are 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs).
73 MSPs represent constituencies, each with roughly the same sized population (with some exceptions for the islands). The voting system for these constituency MSPs is ‘first pass the post’ – the same system as at Westminster elections. The person with the most votes wins.
56 MSPs are elected under a form of proportional representation (known as the Additional Member System). Scotland is divided into eight regions, each region elects seven MSPs, based on the proportion of votes each party receives. The number of constituency seats won by each party in the region is taken into account when calculating who wins the list seats.
Voters have two ballots to complete. One for the constituency, where they are elected an individual, one for the region, where they are selecting a preferred party. You are allowed to vote for different parties, or the same party, in the two ballots.
What does the Scottish Parliament do?
Since 1999 the Scottish Parliament has had responsibility for all the areas of policy and government that have been ‘devolved’, that means those topics where there was agreement that it was better decided in Scotland rather than at a UK level.
These areas include:
Health, including public health and Covid-19 measures
Education, from early years through to university
Law and policing, including criminal and civil law, sentencing and domestic human rights legislation
Some tax powers, including parts of income tax, and some social security spending.
Local government, including housing and homelessness, social services and social care
Environment and climate change, including transport
Sports, arts, culture and tourism
Agriculture, fishing and forestry