United Kingdom

Scottish election results 2021: count to begin in critical vote for the Union

Voting stations have now closed in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election – a race that could be key in determining Scotland's future within the United Kingdom. 

Polling in the final days of the campaign suggested that the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), led by Nicola Sturgeon, is on track for a majority, potentially giving the First Minister what she would see as a mandate for another independence referendum.

Check back to this page throughout Friday and the weekend to see how the count is progressing so far. 

Voters in Scotland went to the polls on Thursday, May 6 – a day that has earned the moniker of "Super Thursday" given the sheer number of elections taking place across the UK.

Many – including the London mayoral race and several English council elections – were due to take place last year, but were rescheduled on account of the coronavirus pandemic.

People in Scotland have today voted for 129 MSPs to sit in the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, with this number split between 73 that represent constituencies and 56 that represent eight regions of the country. 

This means Ms Sturgeon would need to achieve at least 65 seats for a majority.

The SNP won 63 seats following the 2016 election, although the party has lost two members since then. 

The SNP is the only party to have secured a majority in the 22-year history of the Scottish Parliament and - given polling over the past year - is hoping to repeat the feat.

In doing so, it would hope to reinvigorate the campaign for a second referendum on Scottish independence, having pledged to launch an 11-point roadmap if a majority was secured.

Last year polls began to detect a surge in the number of Scots backing independence, with many showing a majority in favour of leaving the UK for the first time in years, but more recent surveys have suggested support has declined. 

Alex Salmond, once a major political force in Scotland but now bordering on electoral irrelevance, made a sensational return to politics when he announced in March that he had become leader of the pro-independence Alba Party to rival the SNP in the election.

Over the coming days, Mr Salmond will learn if his gamble to elect even more pro-independence MSPs has paid off, or if it has cost the separatist movement by splitting votes. 

Meanwhile both the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour - the next largest parties in the Scottish Parliament - have argued against another independence referendum.

Leaders of both parties have pointed to the even greater economic risks posed by independence in the context of the destruction caused by lockdown, while also suggesting the UK's successful vaccination rollout has proven the importance of the Union.

But even if the SNP fails to secure a majority, it will be looking to see if third parties – such as the Greens – might be able to help it cross the line for a majority in Parliament. The Greens, who have five MSPs, have pledged to support the SNP if this is the case. 

What time are the Scottish election results announced?

Due to Covid restrictions being implemented during the count process, results will take longer to be confirmed.

Therefore, the earliest results are not expected until the afternoon or evening of Friday, May 7, with many more not expected until later in the weekend. 

Here is a timetable of the Scottish election proceedings:

Friday, May 7

Counting starts at 9am. It is difficult to predict how long this will take as it is not known to what extent hygiene and social distancing precautions might slow it down. However, it is expected that counting will cease by 6pm.

The 'First Past The Post' votes (FPTP_ for the 73 local representatives will be counted first, with the results of 46 of these seats expected to be announced from lunchtime on Friday.

These are the seats which are expected to announce on Friday with an estimated time of declaration where applicable: 

Saturday, May 8

The remaining 27 FPTP seats are expected to be announced on Saturday.

These include: 

Results from the eight regional Proportional Representation top-up seats are also expected on Saturday night, with Scotland Mid & Fife possibly around 6pm, and Scotland West at 7pm.

The results for all constituencies and regions should have been declared by the afternoon or evening.

About our results

Our results data are provided by the Press Association. Changes are calculated against a council's or parliament's composition at the time of the election, rather than against the composition resulting from the previous election. The Press Association only collates results for elections already scheduled to take place for May 6 2021, so some council by-elections may not feature in our data.  

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