The STV. How has it changed representation in Scotland?. Proportional results. In the 2007 Scottish local council elections, STV delivered broadly proportional results in the elections to Scottish local authorities.
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How has it changed representation in Scotland?
In the 2007 Scottish local council elections, STV delivered broadly proportional results in the elections to Scottish local authorities.
Parties won Council seats much more in proportion to the percentage of the vote they received.
In 2003, in order to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, Labour had to concede to the Liberal Democrats' demands for the STV to be introduced to local council elections.
STV was adopted for Scottish local elections as part of the Local Governance (Scotland) Act, passed in June 2004.
Had Labour won an overall majority in the 2003 Scottish Parliament elections, STV would not have been brought in.
Labour is not dead, far from it. But, the party has to work a lot harder to win elections than it did under FPTP. Maybe not a bad thing.
The type of voting system, on its own, would not appear to be the decisive factor in encouraging voters to turn out and vote.
Its perhaps unfair to deliver judgement on STV local council elections until STV elections are finally “de-coupled” from the Scottish Parliament elections in 2012.
UK voters do, though, appear to see the General Election as the most important, despite its much criticised First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system.
In July 2008, in Highland Council, a new coalition was formed between some Independents, Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors, after the SNP withdrew from the previous coalition.
Under the old FPTP system of electing councillors, many of Scotland’s councils were, arguably, unfairly dominated by the Labour Party.
Labour could win complete control of a local authority with just a small percentage of the overall vote.
Highland Council 2007.
Labour 7 seats, Lid Dem 21, SNP 17, Ind 35 Councillors
Most local authorities in Scotland are organised on a party political basis .
Most councillors are elected as party representatives.
Some also have a strong personal support in the local area.
Under STV, voters can choose between candidates of political parties. A candidate who is more popular on a local level perhaps has more chance of being elected than some one who is unknown.
So, STV has ended the days when local councillors had a “shoo-in” safe seat.
In the 2003 local elections, held under the FPTP system, 4,195 candidates stood in 1,222 wards. The average elector, therefore, had a choice from among 3.4 candidates. In 61 wards there was no competition at all, the candidate was unopposed, possibly because under FPTP it was so obvious who was going to win.
In 2007 there were 2,599 candidates for 353 multi-member wards. The choice available for the average elector was therefore 7.4 candidates – more than double that of 2003. There were no unopposed returns at all.
The 2007 elections, nationally, left the Conservative vote more or less where it was, but there were local variations.
South Lanarkshire and Dumfries & Galloway were the leading success stories for the Conservatives with gains of four seats in each council
Gains in some councils, such as Fife and South Lanarkshire, were mostly because the new system gave fairer representation to Conservative voters, while in others, such as Dundee, South Ayrshire and most spectacularly Stirling, Conservative losses were because they had previously been overrepresented.
However, even under STV, the Conservatives’ support is too low to hold out much hope of making a breakthrough in many areas of urban central Scotland.
However, a minority Conservative vote has always existed here.
In both North Lanarkshire and Inverclyde the Conservatives won seats on councils which had no Conservative representation in 2003.
Jim McCabe (on the right), Labour leader of North Lanarkshire Council.
In 2007, Labour was the only party to win outright control of any councils, winning Glasgow and North Lanarkshire.
However, the 2007 elections, at local as well as national level, were traumatic for Labour.
The party’s vote was down across nearly all of Scotland.
Labour had enjoyed over-representation in many Scottish councils for decades and the 2007 elections represented an adjustment in terms of its true support.
The Liberal Democrats were supposed to be the big winners with STV. The party fought hard to have STV introduced, although, to be fair, it always claimed this was not for narrow party political advantage.
In 2007, the Liberal Democrats experienced a decline in the number of their councillors, down from 175 to 166.
The party made breakthroughs is some areas where it had previously struggled to make an impact, such as North Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire. It also did well in Highlands and Argyll &Bute, which has Liberal Democrat representation at Westminster and Scottish Parliament level too.
The 2007 elections saw the election of the first Green councillors in Scotland. Five candidates were successful in Glasgow and three in Edinburgh.
Jim Bollan of the SSP, was re-elected in the Vale of Leven ward of West Dunbartonshire Council.
In December 2007, Ruth Black showed a remarkable lack of, er, Solidarity, by defecting to Labour!
STV was supposed to create a more diverse set of councillors.
However, before voters can vote for increased numbers of women and Black Minority ethnic candidates (BMEs), parties need to select them.
In 2007, the total proportion of female Scottish councillors was more or less unchanged, falling from 21.8% to 21.6%
In terms of political representation, there are only a handful of BME councillors – 9 out of 1,222 councillors, or just below 1 per cent, elected in 2007. All are men of Asian heritage.
Irfan RabbaniLabour, Glasgow
Jahangir Hanif, SNP, Glasgow
Initially supposed to be held in 2011, the date of the local council elections was moved to 2012, due to the fiasco of 2007 when voters used the STV to elect councillors on the same day as they used the AMS for the Scottish Parliament.
With the electoral landscape having changed dramatically, the SNP is targeting the only two remaining outright Labour led councils; Glasgow and North Lanarkshire.