On Elections

How people elect parliaments


Scottish Parliament

Specific elections: 1999 –  2003 – 2007 – 2011 – 2016


Devolved democratic institutions in Scotland are created by legislation of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Arising out of the devloution movement of the late 1990s, Scotland has a unicameral Parliament (Pàrlamaid (Gaelic); Pairliament (Scots)) of which the sole house is an assembly of 129 members.

Seats in the Scottish Parliament are party directly elected and partly allocated to parties through a variant of the British additional member system (AMS). The country is divided into 8 electoral regions, which are further divided into 73 electoral divisions. The total number of seats for each electoral region is the number of local divisions in the region (either 9 or 10) plus 7. Voters cast two votes: one vote to elect a local division representative and one ‘list vote’ to support a party at the regional level. The seats within each region seats are allocated by a variant of the D’Hondt formula in which the number of list votes cast for each party is divided successively during the count by a divisor equal to 1 plus the number of seats the party has already won. At each stage, another seat is awarded to the party with the highest current quotient, and the process is repeated until all seats are allocated. However this allocation process begins with the first 9 or 10 places being awarded to the local division members who are directly elected through the local votes by the plurality voting method. There are thus 73 directly elected members and a further 56 members (7 in each electoral region) awarded seats through closed party list seat allocation.

Terms are up to four years.

Within the scope of the powers devolved to it by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Scotland has the representative parliamentary system of government, in which nominal executive authority is vested in the Queen. However, actual executive power is exercised by the Prìomh Mhinistear or First Minister on the basis of the continuing confidence of a majority in the Parliament.

Commentary and analysis




[Inequality in the effective influence of voters caused by variations in division enrolments]

[nomination openness – party configurations]

[summary of results]

[Inequality in the effective influence of voters caused by variations in division turnouts (formal votes)]

[inequality by margins]

Specific elections

1999 –  2003 – 2007 – 2011 – 2016




[data source – data completeness – anomalous contests]


[Datasets are not yet published]

  • OnElections election results UK-SC-1999-2016 v1.xls
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