SNP Secure Fourth Scottish Parliament Victory But Fall One Just Short Of Overall Majority
The SNP have fallen just one seat short of an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament elections.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has hailed her party's performance as an "extraordinary and historic achievement" as she vowed to push for a second vote on Scottish independence.
A commanding election performance saw her party fall just one seat short of an overall majority in Holyrood, including taking seats from Labour and the Conservatives in the constituency contest.
The final results saw the SNP secure 64 seats. The Scottish Conservatives remained in second place with 31 seats, Scottish Labour secured 22, the Scottish Greens on 8 and the Scottish Liberal Democrats dropping one seat to 4 MSPs.
The SNP's campaign to secure an overall majority took a hit on Saturday after the Scottish Conservatives held the key target seat of Galloway & West Dumfries.
A further blow came when the party failed to win Aberdeenshire West, where the Conservatives ended up increasing their majority to almost 3,400, up from 900 in the 2016 election.
But a boost for the Scottish Greens could prove vital to the SNP's hopes of pushing for a second independence referendum, with both parties claiming a majority of pro-independence parties would justify a second poll.
The increase in seats for the Greens could also raise the prospects of a formal coalition between the two parties.
While an overall majority would have strengthened the SNP's argument for a second independence poll, Sturgeon said on Saturday a further vote should be held as a "fundamental democratic principle".
"The people of Scotland must have the right to decide our own future when the Covid crisis has passed" she said.
"Both the SNP and Scottish Greens stood on a clear commitment to an independence referendum within the next parliamentary term.
"And both of us made clear that the timing of a referendum should be decided by a simple majority of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament."
She added: "Given the outcome of this election, there is simply no democratic justification whatsoever for Boris Johnson or anyone else seeking to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose our future.
"If there is such an attempt it will demonstrate conclusively that the UK is not a partnership of equals and that – astonishingly – Westminster no longer sees the UK as a voluntary unions of nations.
"That in itself would be a very powerful argument for independence."
In another significant milestone for Scottish politics, the first woman of colour was elected to Holyrood in its 22 year history, with Kaukab Stewart winning Glasgow Kelvin for the SNP.
The Scottish teacher, who has run in five national elections since 1999, said in her victory speech: "It is without doubt an honour to be elected as the first woman of colour to the Scottish Parliament.
"It has taken too long, but to all the women and girls of colour out there the Scottish Parliament belongs to you too,
"So whilst I may be the first, I will not be the last."
Labour's Pam Duncan-Glancy also made history by becoming the first permanent wheelchair user to be elected to Holyrood.
Duncan-Glancy who won a seat on the Glasgow regional list said she was "incredibly honoured and privileged" to have won her seat.
The newly elected MSP had faced difficulty during the count, initially being denied access to her own count because the Glasgow venue was not accessible.
Speaking after her victory, she said the incident was "one of the reasons why I have always been involved in politics".
"What happened yesterday happens to disabled people across Scotland and the country, and indeed the world, I'm sure, on a daily basis. And it shouldn't," she said.
"That's one of the reasons why I have always been involved in politics. It's why I'm an activist."
She added: "I will speak up for disabled people's human rights."Alex Salmond's Alba Party failed to win a single seat in Holyrood. The former first minister had been accused of trying to "game" the Scottish electoral system by his successor Nicola Sturgeon.
The former first minister had opted against standing candidates in any specific constituencies, instead urging voters to give his party their votes on the regional list which he argued would give a pro-independence "supermajority".
But poor results across Scotland, including in his region in Aberdeenshire, dashed his hopes of making a return to Holyrood.
Recently elected Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross also won a seat on the Highlands regional list, meaning there is now likely to be a by-election for his Moray Westminster seat.