Scotland's 129 MSPs sworn in after SNP win

Alex Salmond SNP leader Alex Salmond gave his loyalty to the Scottish people

Scotland's 129 MSPs have been sworn in, as the Scottish Parliament sat for the first time since the SNP's landslide victory in last week's election.

SNP backbencher Tricia Marwick was also elected by members to become Holyrood's new presiding officer.

Taking the oath, First Minister Alex Salmond swore allegiance to the Queen, but said his party's "primary loyalty was to the people of Scotland".

The SNP will form Scotland's first majority administration.

The Nationalists won 69 seats, giving them an overall majority.

Labour emerged with 37 seats, while the Conservatives were on 15, the Liberal Democrats won five seats and the Greens have two MSPs.

Independent MSP Margo Macdonald was also returned to parliament.

Ms Marwick, MSP for Mid Fife and Glenrothes, beat off competition from fellow SNP backbencher Christine Grahame and former Labour minister Hugh Henry to win the presiding officer job.

The swearing-in ceremony began with out-going presiding officer Alex Fergusson, who has returned as a Tory MSP, before the party leaders took the oath.

SNP leader Mr Salmond began his by stating: "The Scottish National Party's primary loyalty is to the people of Scotland, in line with the Scottish constitutional tradition of the sovereignty of the people."

Guide to presiding officer election

The Scottish Parliament presiding officer is an MSP elected in a ballot of Holyrood members, who submit nominations for the post.

If a candidate wins more votes than the total number received by all other candidates and the total number of votes cast is more than a quarter of the total number of seats in parliament, that candidate will be elected.

If there is no outright winner for presiding officer, successive rounds of voting will be held, with the candidate receiving the fewest votes in each round being eliminated until one is left.

If there is only one candidate, MSPs are asked to vote for or against that contender or abstain.

A sole nominee is elected if they win a simple majority in their favour and the total number of votes cast is more than a quarter of the total number of seats in the parliament.

The successful candidate resigns from their party, in keeping with a requirement for impartiality.

In this case, Christine Grahame was eliminated in the initial round, bringing it down to a straight fight between Tricia Marwick and Hugh Henry.

Holyrood also elects two deputy presiding officers.

A total of 46 MSPs are taking up seats in parliament for the first time, while 36 members are returning, having served continuously since the first election in 1999.

MSPs reflected their cultural backgrounds by taking oaths or affirmations in Urdu, Gaelic, Scots, Italian and Doric, as well as in English.

Left-wing Labour MSPs Neil Findlay and Elaine Smith swore in "under protest", pledging allegiance to the people as "citizens, not subjects".

SNP Education Secretary Mike Russell took the oath in English, Scots and Gaelic, while another Nationalist MSP, Maureen Watt, crossed her fingers while she was swearing in.

Dennis Robertson, the new MSP for Aberdeenshire West, was accompanied to the well of the Holyrood chamber to take the oath by his guide dog, named Q.

The newly-inducted compliment of members includes a brother and sister - the SNP's Fergus and Annabelle Ewing - husband-and-wife team Claire and Richard Baker, and father-and-daughter Michael and Siobhan McMahon, all Labour MSPs.

The Scottish Labour and Tory leaders, Iain Gray and Annabel Goldie, have both announced they are standing down from their jobs in the autumn, while the Lib Dems' Tavish Scott quit his party's leadership at the weekend with immediate effect.

Start Quote

I (name) do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.”

End Quote MSP oath of allegiance

The election for first minister - with SNP leader Alex Salmond the only realistic candidate - is taking place at a later date.

Holyrood was also being re-convened after the Earl of Wessex attended the Kirking of parliament on Tuesday night.

The traditional ecumenical service at Edinburgh's St Giles' Cathedral was also attended by MSPs, faith representatives and other guests.

It was led by The Very Rev Gilleasbuig Macmillan, who led the Kirking ceremonies after the 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections.

Meanwhile, SNP ministers have been continuing to press Westminster to give increased financial powers to Scotland.

Mr Salmond has said Holyrood must be given more ''economic teeth'' in the Scotland Bill, currently going through Westminster.

The SNP wants greater borrowing powers, control over corporation tax and devolution of the Crown Estates.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore is due to meet Alex Salmond in Edinburgh on Thursday.

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