Next Scottish Parliament election
← 2021 No later than 7 May 2026 (2026-05-07)

All 129 seats to the Scottish Parliament
65 seats needed for a majority
Party Leader Current seats
SNP Nicola Sturgeon 64
Conservative Douglas Ross 31
Labour Anas Sarwar 22
Green Patrick Harvie &
Lorna Slater
Liberal Democrats Alex Cole-Hamilton 4
Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone 1
Incumbent First Minister
Nicola Sturgeon

The next Scottish Parliament election is due to be held on Thursday 7 May 2026 to elect 129 members to the Scottish Parliament. It will be the seventh general election since the devolved parliament was established in 1999.

Five parties have MSPs in the sixth parliament: Scottish National Party (SNP) led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Conservatives led by Douglas Ross, Scottish Labour led by Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Greens, led by their co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, and the Scottish Liberal Democrats, led by Alex Cole-Hamilton.


Under the Scottish Elections (Reform) Act 2020, an ordinary general election to the Scottish Parliament would normally be held on the first Thursday in May five years after the 2021 election, i.e. in May 2026.[1] This Act superseded the 1998 Scotland Act, which had set elections in every fourth year.[2]

The date of the poll may be varied by up to one month either way by the monarch, on the proposal of the Presiding Officer.[2]

If Parliament itself resolves that it should be dissolved, with at least two-thirds of the Members (i.e. 86 Members) voting in favour, the Presiding Officer proposes a date for an extraordinary general election and the Parliament is dissolved by the monarch by royal proclamation.

It does not necessarily require a two-thirds majority to precipitate an extraordinary general election, because under the Scotland Act Parliament is also dissolved if it fails to nominate one of its members to be First Minister within certain time limits, irrespective of whether at the beginning or in the middle of a parliamentary term. Therefore, if the First Minister resigned, Parliament would then have 28 days to elect a successor (s46(2)b and s46(3)a). If no new First Minister was elected then the Presiding Officer would ask for Parliament to be dissolved under s3(1)a. This process could also be triggered if the First Minister lost a vote of confidence by a simple majority (i.e. more than 50%), as s/he must then resign (Scotland Act 1998 s45(2)).

No extraordinary general elections have been held to date. Any extraordinary general elections would be in addition to ordinary general elections, unless held less than six months before the due date of an ordinary general election, in which case they supplant it. The subsequent ordinary general election reverts to the first Thursday in May, five years after the previous ordinary election.[1][3]

Election system, seats, and regions

Main article: List of Scottish Parliament constituencies and electoral regions (2011–present)

The total number of Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) elected to the Parliament is 129.

The First Periodical Review of the Scottish Parliament's constituencies and regions by the Boundary Commission for Scotland, was announced on 3 July 2007. The Commission published its provisional proposals for the regional boundaries in 2009.

The Scottish Parliament uses an additional member system (AMS), designed to produce approximate proportional representation for each region. There are 8 regions, each sub-divided into smaller constituencies. There are a total of 73 constituencies. Each constituency elects one MSP by the plurality (first past the post) system of election. Each region elects 7 additional MSPs using an additional member system. A modified D'Hondt method, using the constituency results, is used to elect these additional MSPs.[4][5]

The Scottish Parliament constituencies have not been coterminous with Scottish Westminster constituencies since the 2005 general election, when the 72 former UK Parliament constituencies were replaced with a new set of 59, generally larger, constituencies (see Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004). The boundaries used for the Scottish Parliament elections were then revised for the 2011 election. The Boundary Commission also recommended changes to the electoral regions used to elect "list" members of the Scottish Parliament,[6] which were also implemented in 2011.

Target constituency seats

Below are listed all the constituencies which require a swing of less than 5% from the 2021 results to change hands. The Scottish Greens do not have any constituencies where they require a swing of less than 5% (having gained their current seats from the regional list vote). The 7.55% swing the Scottish Greens need to gain Glasgow Kelvin is their nearest opportunity in terms of a constituency seat, in which the party finished second in the last Scottish Parliament election behind the SNP.

SNP targets

Rank Constituency Winning party 2021 Swing to gain SNP place 2021 Result
1 Dumbarton Labour 1.93 2nd
2 Eastwood Conservative 2.60 2nd
3 Shetland Liberal Democrats 3.38 2nd
4 Galloway and West Dumfries Conservative 3.55 2nd
5 Edinburgh Southern Labour 4.43 2nd
6 Aberdeenshire West Conservative 4.81 2nd
7 Dumfriesshire Conservative 4.98 2nd

Conservative targets

Rank Constituency Winning party 2021 Swing to gain Con place 2021 Result
1 Ayr SNP 0.20 2nd
2 Banffshire and Buchan Coast SNP 1.18 2nd
3 Aberdeen South and North Kincardine SNP 2.15 2nd
4 Perthshire South and Kinross-shire SNP 2.22 2nd
5 Aberdeenshire East SNP 2.31 2nd
6 Moray SNP 3.87 2nd
7 Angus North and Mearns SNP 4.98 2nd

Labour targets

Rank Constituency Winning party 2021 Swing to gain Labour place 2021 Result
1 East Lothian SNP 1.29 2nd

Liberal Democrat targets

Rank Constituency Winning party 2021 Swing to gain Lib Dem place 2021 Result
1 Caithness, Sutherland and Ross SNP 3.52 2nd

Opinion polling

Main article: Opinion polling for the next Scottish Parliament election


  SNP – Scottish National Party
  Conservative – Scottish Conservatives
  Labour – Scottish Labour
  Lib Dem – Scottish Liberal Democrats
  Green – Scottish Greens
  Alba – Alba Party

See also


  1. ^ a b "Scottish Elections (Reform) Act 2020". Archived from the original on 9 May 2021. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Scotland Act 1998 – Section 2 Ordinary General Elections". Office of Public Sector Information. Archived from the original on 19 May 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
  3. ^ "Scotland Act 1998 – Section 3 Extraordinary General Elections". Office of Public Sector Information. Archived from the original on 19 May 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
  4. ^ "Electoral system: How it works, 02 April 2003". BBC News. BBC. 2 April 2003. Archived from the original on 4 September 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  5. ^ "D'Hondt system". BBC News. BBC. 28 September 2009. Archived from the original on 13 November 2011. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Revised Recommendations" (PDF). Boundary Commission for Scotland. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2011.