Advertisement

Peter MacMahons' Politics Blog: Fascinating times ahead for the SNP and Green Party

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon after casting her vote at Broomhouse Community Hall polling station Photo: PA

I've spent a lot of this Holyrood election campaign saying how difficult the voting system made it for a party to get an overall majority.

And then saying that the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon was going to do just that. Well it hasn't happened. Because, well, the voting system makes that difficult.

In my defence, I wasn't the only one who thought they Nationalists would overcome this difficulty. The polls strongly suggested it and as election night went on, they seemed on course to do it.

But they didn't and despite this being a very good result for the SNP it falls short of what they and Ms Sturgeon hoped for.

In the next Scottish parliament they some times will have to rely on other parties to get their legislation through.

With just 63 seats the SNP is two MSPs short of a majority it would need to command Holyrood, and six behind its total of 2011.

And the party they are most likely to have to depend on - The Greens now with six MSPs - was not in favour of a formal coalition, or it wasn't pre-election anyway.

The setback has taken the shine off what would in other circumstance be seen as a big victory for Ms Sturgeon who ran a Presidential style campaign.

Scottish Green Party leader Patrick Harvie may have plenty to smile about Credit: PA

If she does do a deal with the Greens it is likely they will push the SNP to be more radical on tax and council tax reform - in other words try to force them to make the better off pay more than under the current Nationalist plans.

But if the result put a damper on Ms Sturgeon's night it was a massive triumph for the Tory leader Ruth Davidson who emerged with a stunning 31 MSP - up from 15 - as the second largest party.

The Tory leader always said she would be better than her party had ever done and campaigned explicitly to be the opposition.

But even in her wildest dreams she would not have thought she could have such a large band of MSPs, with many of them coming from the south of Scotland.

In the ITV Border area there is now a think blue line of Tories representing the seats that abut the Border with England.

These were areas, remember, where a majority of people voted 'No' in the independence referendum. The Tories had an overtly Unionist message, and that seems to have hit home in the south of Scotland.

For Labour and its leader, Kezia Dugdale, this result is a catastrophe. The party which once dominated Scotland now is the third force in her politics and is likely to have less influence than even the Greens.

For the Lib Dems and their leader Willie Rennie there were some successes in first-past-the-post seats and those who predicted the demise his party have been proved wrong.

The Lib Dems, putting the emphasis again on the 'l' word, at least live to fight another day. And they too might have some influence when the SNP need votes to pass legislation.

So, after appearing dull, this election result suddenly become more interesting.

The SNP have a commanding lead in terms of seats at Holyrood but they do not command the parliament.

With the Greens apparently in no hurry to have another independence referendum, the likelihood of 'indyref2' as its know must have receded even further too, though Ms Sturgeon had been carefully ambiguous on that anyway.

Politics, eh? Who'd have thought. It constantly surprises. This next five years is going to be fascinating.

Did I mention it's hard to get an outright majority under the Scottish parliament's election system?

More on this story