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Member of the Scottish Parliament

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Title: Member of the Scottish Parliament  
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Subject: Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon, Elaine Murray, Richard Simpson (politician), David McLetchie
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Member of the Scottish Parliament

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) (Ball Pàrlamaid na h-Alba (BPA) in Gaelic, Memmer o the Scots Pairliament (MSP) in Scots) is the title given to any one of the 129 individuals elected to serve in the Scottish Parliament.


  • Electoral system 1
  • Types of candidates 2
  • Elections 3
  • Title 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6

Electoral system

The additional member system produces a form of proportional representation, where each constituency has its own representative, and each region has seats given to political parties to reflects as closely as possible its level of support among voters.[1] Each registered voter is asked to cast 2 votes, resulting in MSPs being elected in one of two ways:

Types of candidates

With the additional members system, there are 3 ways in which a person can stand to be a MSP:[3]

  • a constituency candidate
  • a candidate named on a party list at the regional election
  • an individual candidate at the regional election

A candidate may stand both in a constituency and on a regional list. Constituency seats are decided first. Candidates who succeed in being elected to a constituency seat will then have their name removed from the regional list process.[4]


All MSP positions become simultaneously vacant for elections held on a four-year cycle. The Scotland Act 1998 sets out that ordinary general elections for the Scottish Parliament are held on the first Thursday in May, every four years.[5]

If a vacancy arises at another time, due to death or resignation, then it may be filled in one of two ways, depending of whether the vacancy is for a first-past-the-post constituency MSP or for an additional-member MSP.

A constituency vacancy may be filled by a by-election. An additional-member vacancy may be filled by the next available candidate on the relevant party list. In the event that there is no next available person the vacancy will then remain. This situation occurred in April 2014 following the death of Margo MacDonald, independent MSP for the Lothian region.


An MSP is known as Name MSP (Name BPA in Gaelic). For instance, Adam Ingram can be entitled either Adam Ingram MSP or Adhamh Ingram BPA.

See also


  1. ^ "About: Information resources: FAQs".  
  2. ^ "How the Scottish Parliament works" (PDF).  
  3. ^ "Standing for Scottish Parliamentary election" (PDF).  
  4. ^ "Scottish Parliament Fact sheet: Scottish Parliament Electoral System" (PDF).  
  5. ^ "Scottish Parliament Fact Sheet: Dates of Recess, Dissolution and Parliamentary Years" (PDF). Scottish Parliament. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
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