Local councils in Scotland are elected by a system called the “Single Transferrable Vote”, or STV for short, which is a form of proportional representation. In this system you rank candidates in order of preference 1, 2, 3 etc, and you can rank as many or as few as you like.
If the candidate your vote is with is eliminated, or elected already with more votes than they need, your vote will transfer to your next preference. That’s why it’s a good idea to use as many preferences as possible. Keep ranking candidates until there are none left you’d prefer over any of the other remaining candidates – aka Vote ’til You Boke. It does not harm your first preference to use later preferences.
Most wards in Scotland currently elect 3 or 4 councillors. If you live in Shetland or the Western Isles, you might only have 2 councillors in your ward. If you live in North Ayrshire, your ward might have as many as 5 councillors – and if you live on Arran, you’ll only have 1!
There are a total of 355 council wards in Scotland, and no party is contesting every single one. However, all of the five major Holyrood parties are present in at least two-thirds of wards. BBS took a more detailed look at some of the candidate statistics in this piece.
The table below lists which of the major parties are standing in each ward, as well as Alba, Independents and if there are any Other candidates. As there are a grand total of 2548 candidates standing in May, I haven’t had the time to compile all the candidate names or a complete breakdown of “Others” myself. If you’re after that kind of detail, Democracy Club has it all!
You can find relatively simple versions of the 2017 results here. Please note this was some of the first stuff I ever did as Ballot Box Scotland right back at the start of 2018, so it all looks a lot messier than my most recent work! The overall figures were as follows:
Wards Worth Watching takes a look at what could be some of the most interesting contests across Scotland this May, based on past election results. No claim is made that these are the only possible changes that will occur, nor that other wards aren’t interesting.
Given how much needed to be done, this series was mostly written in February and early March, long before nominations closed. Some of the possibilities highlighted no longer apply now we know what’s on every ballot. I’ve tried my best to go back through and highlight where that’s the case, but I’ve left the original text intact.
Other BBS articles about the Local Elections:
- Local Elections 2022: An Entirely Different Beast
- A look ahead to the elections, with an explanation of how they tend to differ from parliamentary elections.
- LE22 Party Profile: SNP
- LE22 Party Profile: Conservative
- LE22 Party Profile: Labour
- LE22 Party Profile: Lib Dem
- LE22 Party Profile: Green
- LE22: The Mysterious Case of the Evaporating Independents
As part of the first-ever Ballot Box Scotland commissioned poll, by Survation running from the 24th to 28th of March, voters were asked about their first preference intention for the local elections. I note in the accompanying analysis piece that whilst everything else in the poll looks about right, the local element seems odd. In short, I believe this may be over-estimating the SNP and underestimating the Greens, and it certainly is underestimating Independents. We’ll find out in May whether it’s close or not, and I’ll likely have more to say then.
The figures were (changes vs 2017):