MSPs to be sworn in ahead of new parliamentary term at Holyrood

Scotland’s MSPs will be sworn in on Thursday, kicking off a new parliamentary term.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will be first to take her oath, as a result of leading the largest party, followed by her fellow party leaders.

Outgoing Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh, who decided not to stand in last week’s election, will run the proceedings, which require MSPs to pledge their allegiance to the Queen before they are allowed to undertake any parliamentary duties or receive their MSP salary. If the oath or affirmation is not taken within two months, they will then lose their seat.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon will be the first to be sworn in for the new parliamentary term at Holyrood (Russell Cheyne/PA)

A number of MSPs have signalled they will take their oath in a language other than English, with some expected to speak in Scots, Gaelic, Urdu, Orcadian, Doric and even, in the case of Zimbabwe-born North East Green MSP Maggie Chapman, Zimbabwean Shona.

The oath will be followed by the election of the new presiding officer, who will take charge of proceedings for the next five years.

No MSP has yet signalled their intent publicly to stand for the position, which requires elected members to renounce their party affiliation and act cross-party for the duration.

Parliamentary arithmetic could prevent some MSPs from putting themselves forward for the position, given the SNP is just one seat short of a majority.

If the SNP puts someone forward, it would drop further away from the 65 MSPs needed to pass legislation on its own – whereas the chamber would be tied if an opposition MSP takes the role.

Friday will see the election of deputy presiding officers, who do not have to relinquish their party affiliation.