The dominant theme of the Holyrood election was healing the country in the wake of the pandemic.

Nicola Sturgeon said keeping Scotland safe was her top priority - more than a second independence referendum.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar talked up his “national recovery” plan and urged politicians to come together.

And Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, also stressed the importance of post-covid recovery and demanded indyref2 be shelved.

However, the initial results from the election show that Scotland’s constitutional future remains the key ballot box influencer.

Independence was not the pre-eminent issue during the campaign, but voting behaviour is tied to a person’s view on Scotland’s place in the UK.

Although no uniform pattern emerged from the dozens of constituency results, some obvious trends were apparent.

The huge constituency vote built up by the SNP remains intact. Support for independence likely translates into a vote for Sturgeon’s party.

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In Perthshire North, Deputy First Minister John Swinney won 49.5% of the vote, a slight increase on the 2016 result.

In Glasgow Anniesland, SNP candidate Bill Kidd comfortably retained his seat, as did many of his colleagues.

They also toppled Labour in East Lothian, and the Tories in Ayr and Edinburgh Central.

Much has been written about Labour’s crumbling “red wall” in the North of England, but the yellow wall that has served as an SNP fortress remains strong.

The other trend was pro-Union tactical voting across the country.

In Edinburgh seats, pro-UK voters seemed inclined to back Labour and Lib Dem candidates, but less inclined to support the Conservatives.

The Tories fared better in the North East, which was probably Leave voters uniting behind Douglas Ross’ party.

The SNP secured 63 MSPs in 2016 and needed a net gain of two seats for an overall majority.

Even though the SNP picked up vital constituencies yesterday, sources are unclear whether it will be enough to give the party an overall majority.

It is possible they could stall on the regional lists, which are counted today.

Sarwar has called for Scotland to move beyond the divisions of the “past”, but the results confirm the constitution is a live matter for voters.