What is the Scottish Parliament?
In 1997, a referendum saw 74% of voters backed the creation of a Scottish Parliament. A year later, in 1998, the Scotland Act was passed by the Westminster Parliament, and the first elections for Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) in 1999.
The Scottish Parliament is located in Holyrood, Edinburgh, and is a devolved legislature – meaning it debates legislation and passes laws for Scotland. The Parliament, and the MSPs elected to it, handle ‘devolved powers’ – sets of policies that are controlled by the Scottish Parliament, while the UK Government in Westminster retains some powers, generally those policies that affect the whole of the United Kingdom.
Some of the powers retained by the UK Parliament in Westminster include; Benefits and social security, Immigration, Defence, Foreign policy, Employment, Broadcasting, Trade and industry, Nuclear energy, oil, coal, gas and electricity, Consumer rights, Data protection, and the Constitution.
2021 Election Key Links:
Why engage in the Scottish Parliament elections?
How are MSPs elected?
Under AMS, each voter typically gets two votes – one for a candidate and one for a party. Each constituency returns a single candidate, in the style of First Past the Post. The votes for the party list candidates are then allocated on top of these constituency seats to ‘top up’ the number of seats won by each party to represent their share of the votes proportionally. (Source: Electoral Reform Society)
What is AMS?
What are MSPs?
This excellent guide from the Scottish Parliament Education team has more information about how it all works: