It seems clear that the Scottish National Party will try to form an administration over the coming days, most probably involving some kind of coalition, so that Alex Salmond MP MSP will become First Minister of the new Scottish Executive.
The composition of the new Scottish Parliament will be as follows:
- Scottish National Party - 47 (21 constituency, 26 regional)
- Scottish Labour Party - 46 (37 constituency, 9 regional)
- Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party - 17 (4 constituency, 13 regional)
- Scottish Liberal Democrats - 16 (11 constituency, 5 regional)
- Scottish Green Party - 2 (2 regional)
- Independent - 1 (1 regional)
Although the margin of success for the SNP is tiny it is nonetheless very significant - it is the first time Labour has been 'bested' in Scottish national politics in at least five decades and of course the result breaks their dominance of the ten year old Scottish Parliament. And who can be unhappy about that? The fact that breaking free of the stultifying hold over Scottish politics of the Labour Party has been bought at the price of SNP success is not, of course, something I am happy about and I suspect that the knife-edge result will itself result in considerable tensions over the coming four years, even if (one supposes) the SNP will, if it succeeds in forming a Scottish Executive, be determined to demonstrate to the Scottish electorate that it is capable of running a competent, honest government. This in order to gather support for its 'separatist' agenda should it put a referendum for 'independence' to a vote in a few years time.
The other major feature is the concentration of seats amongst the major political parties, with the 'fringe' parties having suffered significant reverses; Scottish politics is likely to be less colourful as a result, if not less controversial. My impression is that the old 'saw' (and curse) May you live in interesting times may, unfortunately, be more than a little appropriate.