Sturgeon to congratulate MSPs on historic victory


Nicola Sturgeon will congratulate her new group of MSPs after the SNP secured an historic third term in power in Scotland.

But while the nationalists won the Holyrood election, Ms Sturgeon and her party will have to come to terms with losing their overall majority and with a new opposition, led by Tory Ruth Davidson after she relegated Labour to third place in the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Sturgeon and her 62 fellow newly-elected MSPs plan to stage a mass photo-op on Saturday at the Kelpies, the giant horse head statues in Falkirk.

The SNP members elected fall two short of a majority and Ms Sturgeon has announced she will lead a minority administration at Holyrood - ruling out speculation over possible coalition.

Her potential allies have warned she will not get an easy ride implementing the SNP's programme for government.

Lacking an overall majority, she will need the support of other parties to be re-elected as First Minister and to pass legislation.

Both the Scottish Greens - with six seats, and the Liberal Democrats - with five seats, could be key in helping the SNP ensure its laws pass through parliament.

The Greens propped up the last nationalist minority administration in 2007 and co-convener Patrick Harvie said it now intends to push the SNP "beyond its comfort zone".

The Lib Dems, veteran coalition builders with a reputation for compromise, talked tough with leader Willie Rennie insisting the "arrogant" SNP now needs "a change of attitude".

The Scottish Conservatives won a record 31 seats, up from 15 in 2011, and are now Holyrood's second biggest party.

The Tories won a number of concessions from Alex Salmond's minority administration and leader Ruth Davidson has pledged to "work constructively where required" but "provide challenge where they do not listen".

Both the Tories and the Lib Dems insisted the one thing they will not compromise over is another independence referendum, with Ms Davidson saying the SNP had "no mandate, no majority, no cause" and Mr Rennie insisting it must be "off the table".

Speaking on the steps of Bute House on Friday, Ms Sturgeon said: "On the question of independence, the SNP will make our case with passion, with patience and with respect. But our aim is to persuade, not to divide.

"We will always respect the opinion of the people - now and in the future - and we simply ask that other parties do likewise."

She said her party had won a "clear and unequivocal mandate" and pledged to "govern with conviction and determination, but also with humility and a willingness to listen and to learn from the ideas of others".

Kezia Dugdale has pledged to continue as Scottish Labour leader following its worst ever result of 24 seats, down 13 from 2011.

She said the result was "heartbreaking" but vowed to "keep fighting for Labour values".