The 2003 Election

Election Facts

  • The 2003 Scottish Parliamentary election left the parties with the following MSP numbers:
      • Scottish Labour 50
      • Scottish National Party 27
      • Scottish Conservatives 18
      • Scottish Liberal Democrats 17
      • Scottish Greens 7
      • Scottish Socialist Party 6
      • Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party 1
      • Independents 3
  • Turnout in the election was 49.43% in the constituency voting and 49.41% in the regional voting down from 58.16% and 58.07% in both votes in 1999
  • Of the 129 MSPs elected, 26 (20%) are new and 51 (39.5%) are women
  • There are no MSPs from ethnic minority groups
  • A total of 408 candidates contested first past the post (FPTP) seats in the Scottish elections, an increase of 85 from the 1999 election
  • All 73 FPTP seats were contested by Labour, the SNP, the Conservative Party, and Liberal Democrats, with the Scottish Socialists contesting 70 constituencies
  • There were 605 candidates on the lists in the eight regions, compared with 500 in the 1999 election
  • All eight regions were contested by the six major parties as well as the Scottish People's Alliance, the Socialist Labour Party and the UK Independence Party

Scottish Parliament Electoral System

The system used for elections to the Scottish Parliament is a form of proportional representation (PR) known as the Additional Member System (AMS).

Under the AMS system in the2003 election, no single party achieved an overall majority. In 1999, the seats were distributed to the four largest political parties (Labour 56, SNP 35, Conservatives 18 and Liberal Democrats 17), as well as one each for the Greens, the Socialists and the independent candidate, Dennis Canavan. Table 1 outlines the overall changes after 2003, as well as the changes at the constituency and regional level.

 

Table 1: Scottish Parliament Election Results 1999 - 2003
   Constituency  Regional List  Total
Party   Seats Change from 1999  % vote  Change from 1999 Seats  Change from 1999  % vote  Change from 1999  Total Seats  Change from 1999
 Labour  46  -7  34.62  -4.18  4  1  29.62  -3.98  50  -6
 Scottish National Party  9  3  23.78  -4.92  18  -10  21.55  -5.75  27  -8
 Scottish Conservatives  3  3  16.61  1.01 15   -3  15.54  0.14  18  0
 Liberal Democrats  13  1  15.36  1.16  4  -1  11.64  0.76  17  0
 Scottish Socialist Party  0  1  6.2  5.2  6  5  6.48  4.48  6  5
 Scottish Green Party  0  0  0  0  7  6  6.46  2.86  7  6
 Scottish Senior Citizens Party  0  0  0  0  1  1  1.47  1.47  1  1
 Others  2  1  3.43  1.73  2  2  7.24  1.64  3  2

The 2003 election saw a shift towards smaller parties and independents, and away from Labour and the SNP on both the first vote, second vote and the total seats. This is shown on figures 1-3 below. The Greens had 7 seats, the Socialists 6, and there were seats for the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party (SSCUP), Dennis Canavan, Margo MacDonald and Jean Turner.