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Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP; Scottish Gaelic: Ball Pàrlamaid na h-Alba, BPA; Scots: Memmer o the Scots Pairliament, MSP) is the title given to any one of the 129 individuals elected to serve in the Scottish Parliament.

Electoral system

The additional member system produces a form of proportional representation, where each constituency has its own representative, and each region has seats given to political parties to reflect as closely as possible its level of support among voters.[1] Each registered voter is asked to cast 2 votes, resulting in MSPs being elected in one of two ways:

Types of candidates

With the additional members system, there are 3 ways in which a person can stand to be a MSP:[3]

A candidate may stand both in a constituency and on a regional list. Constituency seats are decided first. Candidates who succeed in being elected to a constituency seat will then have their name removed from the regional list process.[4]


All MSP positions become simultaneously vacant for elections held on a five-year cycle. The Scotland Act 1998 as amended by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 sets out that ordinary general elections for the Scottish Parliament are held on the first Thursday in May, every five years.[5]

If a vacancy arises at another time, due to death or resignation, then it may be filled in one of two ways, depending on whether the vacancy is for a first-past-the-post constituency MSP or for an additional-member MSP.

A constituency vacancy may be filled by a by-election. An additional-member vacancy may be filled by the next available candidate on the relevant party list. In case there is no next available person, then the vacancy will remain. This situation occurred in April 2014 following the death of Margo MacDonald, independent MSP for the Lothian region.


An MSP is known as Name MSP (Name BPA in Gaelic). For instance, Mike Russell can be entitled either Mike Russell, MSP, or Mìcheal Ruiseal, BPA.

See also


  1. ^ "About: Information resources: FAQs". Scottish Government. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  2. ^ "How the Scottish Parliament works" (PDF). Scottish Parliament. July 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  3. ^ "Standing for Scottish Parliamentary election" (PDF). Electoral Commission (United Kingdom). February 2011. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  4. ^ "Scottish Parliament Fact sheet: Scottish Parliament Electoral System" (PDF). Scottish Parliament. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  5. ^ "Scottish Parliament Fact Sheet: Dates of Recess, Dissolution and Parliamentary Years" (PDF). Scottish Parliament. 8 May 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 October 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2014.