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, 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.
How are MSPs elected?
The Scottish Parliament uses the Additional Member System (AMS) to elect its Members of Scottish Parliament, this is seen as a ‘more FPTP.than
AMS combines elements of First Past the Post where voters mark an X next to the candidate they want to represent them in their constituency, and proportional representation, where voters select from a list of candidates for each party who represent a larger regional constituency. This helps to overcome the disproportionally often associated with First Past the Post elections.
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)
This excellent guide from the Scottish Parliament Education team has more information about how it all works:
Find more guides to the Scottish Parliament – www.parliament.scot/visitandlearn/leaflets-and-guides