Scotland Election 2016

Holyrood 2016: Sturgeon seeks 'consensus' with opposition

Ms Sturgeon at Kelpies Image copyright Getty Images

Nicola Sturgeon has said she will try to find common ground with opposition parties after the SNP's third successive Holyrood election victory.

Ms Sturgeon was speaking at a photocall attended by many of the party's 63 MSPs at the Kelpies in Falkirk.

The election result left the SNP two seats short of a majority in the 129-seat parliament.

But Ms Sturgeon, who will continue as first minister, has already ruled out forming a coalition with another party.

Instead, she said the SNP would govern as a minority administration, as it did between 2007 and 2011.

Image copyright PA
Image copyright PA

That would see the SNP seek support from politicians in other parties in order to pass legislation in the parliament.

Ms Sturgeon said the MSPs would go into the next parliament "with great enthusiasm" and she promised to work to find "common ground" with political opponents.

She said: "I will work to find areas of agreement and build consensus.

"To opposition parties - we won overwhelmingly and we will compromise where in the best interests of the party but we have a clear and unequivocal mandate to govern on the manifesto on which we were elected."

'Unequivocal mandate'

Afterwards, Ms Sturgeon told the BBC she foresaw no problems in ruling as minority government which was just "a whisker short" of an overall majority.

She said: "I want - not because I have to, but I want to - reach out where I can to build common ground on issues where there are agreement between the parties.

"But I am also clear that the SNP has an unequivocal mandate to implement our manifesto."

Most of the SNP's big names were re-elected - with Aileen McLeod the only former government minister to lose her seat - and they will be joined by 16 new faces.

The election also saw the Conservatives record their best Holyrood result after winning 31 seats and replacing Labour - who won 24 - as the parliament's second largest party.

The Scottish Greens finished fourth after winning six seats - one ahead of the Liberal Democrats.

What happens next?

  • Monday 9 May - new MSPs start work, with registration at Holyrood
  • Wednesday 11 May - the Kirking of the Parliament - a multi-faith service - will be held
  • Thursday 12 May - the first meeting of the parliament will see MSPs take the oath and elect the parliament's new presiding officer on Thursday
  • Thursday 19 May - the new first minister is expected to be formally elected
  • Saturday 2 July - the Queen will address the Holyrood chamber when she officially opens the new session of parliament

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie have both called on Ms Sturgeon to rule out a second referendum on independence for the five-year duration of the next parliament.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ruth Davidson's Conservatives exceeded expectations by comfortably finishing ahead of Labour, and she will now lead the biggest opposition party

Ms Davidson, who will now lead the main opposition party at Holyrood, said: "Now that she [Ms Sturgeon] has failed to win a majority, whatever claims the SNP were pursuing with regard to constitutional brinkmanship over the next five years have now been utterly shredded.

"No mandate, no majority, no cause - the SNP must now let Scotland move on."

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale held a meeting with her MSPs on Saturday, after the vote left the party with 13 fewer representatives at Holyrood.

In a statement afterwards she pledged that Labour would be a "positive and effective opposition".

She added: "We will hold the government to account and hold them responsible for the decisions they make.

"But we will also use our voice and influence to make sure that the Labour ideas that over half a million people voted for in this election are heard.

"My priority has always been education and Labour led the debate in the election on using the powers of the parliament to stop the cuts and to invest in education.

"We will continue to argue for action to close the attainment gap in our schools in order to give our young people the best start in life."

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie has welcomed his party's increased representation at Holyrood, which he said would allow it to increase its influence in the parliament.

Mr Harvie said: "Greens have already proved ourselves to be a constructive yet challenging opposition group, delivering results on housing, fracking, fuel poverty and fan ownership of football clubs among many other issues."

Party vote share by constituency

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